Alumni News and Information


John A. McWilliams, 84, of Urbana, died Saturday, March 28, 2021, at Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana. He was born on December 2, 1936, in Urbana, the son of Paul H. and Mary (Spitznagel) McWilliams. He married Gail Antrim on August 12, 1978, in Champaign. John is survived by his wife of 42 years, one daughter, one son, seven grandchildren, one great-grandson, and his brother, Bill McWilliams (CHS 1957). He was preceded in death by his parents and a grandson. John graduated from Champaign Senior High School, Class of 1954. He attended the University of Illinois and served in the U.S. Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserves. John was co-owner and president of McWilliams Mechanical, having grown up in the family business, Paul H. McWilliams & Sons, Inc. He served as President of the Illinois Association of Plumbing-Cooling Contractors, Secretary of the National Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors, and a contractor founder of the Board of Governors of the PHCC Education Foundation. John was an avid water skier and an original member of the Champaign Ski Club. He was a long-time member of the Pollywogs Association, where he spent many hours on the water. John was a proud member of the Master Naturalist Class of 2010. Family and friends will remember John for his humor and storytelling, his love of nature and the outdoors, and his curiosity and sense of adventure. He and Gail lived aboard their sailboat, Maggie, for nearly ten years, exploring the U.S. East Coast, the Bahamas, the Caribbean Islands, and Venezuela. A celebration of life will occur at a later date. Memorials may be made to the PHCC Educational Foundation,; Grand Prairie Friends, grandprairiefriends,org; or an organization of the donor's choice. Condolences may be offered at
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, April 4, 2021)

After South Side Grade School, Johnny, as he was referred to in the Retro yearbook, attended Champaign Junior High School 1949-1951. In the 1949 Fall Review, he took part with four other boys re-enacting a hold-up in the Station Hold-up Act. At Champaign Senior High School, with the Class of 1954, John enjoyed running in Track and Cross Country, while participating in Baseball and Band, plus serving on the Junior-Senior Prom Committee. The quote with his senior picture in the yearbook reads...."A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

John was unavailable to attend many class reunions because of his residency aboard his sailboat exploring the world. However, he enjoyed the gatherings at the reunions he did attend upon his return from venturing. Some ten to twelve years ago, upon receiving an invite from John, my husband remembers a cookout get-together of guys only at the Pollywogs Clubhouse on a summer Saturday afternoon.

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
April 5, 2021


Elizabeth "Betty" Ellen (Quick) Christy, 84, of Woodridge, Virginia, passed away December 21, 2020. She is survived by her husband, Jim Rushton; two daughters, and two grandsons. Born on October 8, 1936, in Champaign to Charles and Virginia Quick, Betty graduated from Champaign Senior High School and attended the University of Illinois, where she was a member of Alpha Phi sorority. After living in Georgia for several years, she settled in Virginia in 1963 to be where her parents resided. Betty had a long, rewarding career at the National Association of Homebuilders in Washington, D.C., working in media relations. She retired as Vice-President of Public Affairs after 33 years. After her retirement from NAHB, Betty formed her own successful company, Christy Consulting, which specialized in presentation training and crisis communications. Betty was an intelligent and independent woman who was respected and admired by all who knew her for her thoughtfulness.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Saturday, January 16, 2021)

In 1951, Betty graduated from Champaign Junior High School, where she participated in Band and Bureau of Decorations. (Source: The 1951 Retro) During her years at Champaign Senior High School, with the Class of 1954, Betty earned National Honor Society membership. Her interest in Band, Orchestra, A Capella Choir, and Musical Moods earned membership in both Baton Club and Modern Music Masters, which is an honorary music organization. The quote with her senior picture in the yearbook reads...."Faithfulness and sincerity--first of all."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

A celebration of Betty's life will be held at a later date. To plant a Memorial tree in Betty's memory, please visit the Sympathy Store at
(Source: The Washington Post, January 15, 2021)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
January 17, 2021


The University of Illinois is looking for a buyer for the historic Colonel Wolfe School building in Champaign, and a local preservationist is concerned the structure could wind up being demolished. The U of I has advertised the 110-year-old former grade school at 403 East Healey Street as available for sale or swap, with offers due by December 21. The Colonel Wolfe School building is architecturally and historically significant according to Susan Appel, Vice-President of the Preservation and Conservation Association of Champaign County. The school building served as a public grade school until 1964. It is a handsome building, with a brown-brick facade set off by contrasting yellow brick work in diamond shapes and horizontal lines, Appel said. "It has an interesting exterior," she said. "It's not elaborate, but it has a lively quality." The building originally had eight classrooms, one in each corner of its two stories, and also has an attic and basement. The building was designed by Spencer & Temple, an architectural firm that also designed Columbia School in Champaign. The school itself was named for a local Civil War hero and lawyer, who was instrumental in raising troops from the area in 1861 and 1864. The appraised value of the property is not being disclosed.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, December 2, 2020)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
December 13, 2020


Harold M. Edwards, 84, died of colon cancer on Tuesday, November 10, 2020, at his home in New York City. He was born August 6, 1936 in Champaign to Harold M. and Marian Scarlett Edwards. His father was Director of Purchasing at the University of Illinois. Harold was the youngest of three sons. The family lived on North Prospect Avenue in Champaign, just north of the Prospect Avenue and Church Street intersection. Harold attended Dr. Howard Grade School, Champaign Junior High School, and Champaign Senior High School through his sophomore year in 1952, when he received a Ford Foundation Scholarship and began studies at the University of Wisconsin, graduating in 1956 with a BA in Mathematics. He received his MA in Mathematics at Columbia University in 1957, Ph.D. in Mathematics from Harvard in 1961. Known by his family as Hal, and by his friends as Ed, he was a mathematician working in number theory, algebra, and the history and philosophy of mathematics. He was co-founding editor of The Mathematical Intelligencer. Harold wrote textbooks on linear algebra, calculus, and number theory, in addition to a book on essays on constructive mathematics. Before his death, he was working on a mathematical paper, "The Triad," which colleagues will attempt to publish. He joined the faculty of New York University in 1966, where he was professor emeritus since 2002. In 2012, he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society. Dr. Edwards was a devoted husband to the love of his life, Betty Rollin, a former NBC news correspondent. He and his wife became active in the movement to legalize physician-assisted dying after the mother of his wife had terminal cancer and their involvement in her suicide. As of now, there is no law in New York that would allow Dr. Edwards to die with assistance, as he wanted to do. Harold was pre-deceased by his parents and his older two brothers. He is survived by his wife, three nephews, two nieces, great-nephews, great-nieces, and sister-in-law, Gwen Tyner Edwards, of Bloomington. (Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, November 15, 2020)

During his sophomore year at CHS, Harold was a new member of Wig 'n' Paint, during which time the membership reached a total of 180, making it the largest in the club's history. (Source: The Champaign Chronicle, Friday, September 21, 1951, page 1.) Harold was a member of Coach Alvan Taylor's cross country team. He participated in the dual meet with Lincoln, which CHS won 44-17, when Harold finished 12th over the one and nine-tenths mile course at Hessel Park. The team had a good season by placing fourth in the Big 12 and fifth in the District. (Source: The Champaign Chronicle, Friday, October 5, 1951, page 3). CHS was first in the Illinois State Music Championship Contest held at Smith Music Hall on the U of I campus, where Harold received a rating of good for his brass baritone solo.
(Source: The Champaign Chronicle, Friday, May 2, 1952, page 4.)

Although Harold did not graduate with CHS Class of 1954, he requested to be on our mailing list for his contact with school friends in Champaign. He was able to attend one of our class reunions some years ago with his wife.

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
November 16, 2020


REMEMBERING CLASSMATE EMILY Our classmate, Emily (Stipes) Watts passed away March 12, 2018, however she is still remembered today. Our local newspaper, The News-Gazette, has a weekly column regarding a 'U of I at 150 & Beyond' project. Each week a question is asked of high-achieving alumni. Recently, the questions was...."Who's the U of I faculty member - and what's the memory about them - that comes to mind first when you think back to your days on campus?"

Roxanne Decyk (1973) 2005 U of I Alumni Achievement Award winner and retired oil executive, served as Royal Dutch Shell's executive VP of global government relations responded...."I had some terrific professors, but Emily Watts - sadly recently deceased - in the English Department stands out as having changed my life. I was committed to becoming a professor of English literature, but she was a keen observer of personality in addition to being a fine teacher. She gave me three reasons to reconsider my career plans. First, practically no women were getting tenure - she was a distinct exception - at good universities. Or anywhere. Second, the pay was lousy. Third, a nerdy argument - to have a shot at great opportunities, I should focus solely on Yale for graduate work."

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
October 12, 2020


John Thomas Pfeffer, 83, of Champaign, died Tuesday, August 18, 2020, at Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana. A funeral Mass will be at 10:00 a.m. Friday, August 21, 2020, at St. Matthew Catholic Church, Champaign. Entombment will be in Grandview Memorial Gardens, Champaign. There will be no visitation. John was born on November 18, 1936 in Urbana, the son of Francis and Alice Deany Pfeffer. He married Mary Hatton on September 2, 1960, in Melvin. John is survived by his wife, two sons, two daughters, six grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and one sister, Mary Alice Walsh of Rantoul. He was preceded in death by his parents, one brother and one sister. John was a U.S. Air Force veteran. He worked for the U.S. Postal Service and the U. of I. Athletic Department. He was a member of St. Matthew Catholic Church and a St. Louis Cardinals baseball and U. of I. sports fan. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Matthew Catholic Church, Champaign. Condolences may be offered at
(Source: The News-Gazette, Thursday, August 20, 2020)

During 1952-1954, while attending Champaign Senior High School, John's main interest was music by participating in A Capella Choir, Troubadors and Musical Moods. John was camera shy in the yearbook, and the quotation with his name reads...."Modest men are scarce."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon, page 43)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
August 20, 2020


Wanda (Rexroad) Byers, 84, of Mahomet, passed away Thursday, August 6, 2020, at home. Private graveside services will be held. Wanda was born April 16, 1936 in Champaign to Henry and Hazel Abrams Rexroad. She married Wayne Byers who preceded her in death. Surviving are four daughters, eight grandchildren, five brothers and two sisters. She was preceded in death by her parents and two brothers. Wanda served in the U.S. Air Force from 1954-1956. She drove a school bus for Mahomet-Seymour school district for many years. She was last employed at Health Alliance as a lobby receptionist. She was a member of American Legion Post 1015 in Mahomet and Grace Baptist Chuch in Mahomet. She loved to sew and read.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Saturday, August 8, 2020)

At Champaign Senior High School from 1952-1954, Wanda participated in Wig 'n' Paint, Orchestra, Musical Moods and Library. The quotation with her senior picture in the yearbook reads...."I'm a girl of few words."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon, page 37)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
August 8, 2020


Lionel Frank Getz, Sr., passed away Saturday, July 25, 2020, at his home in the Jennings Community, Paris, Texas, surrounded by family after a one-year battle with cancer. He was born to Ralph and Eva Getz on July 19, 1936, in Mt. Carroll, Illinois. Lionel met the love of his life, Georgia Skidmore, while serving in the U.S. Air Force in Ardmore, Oklahoma. They were married August 10, 1958 at Shady Grove Methodist Church. They were to celebrate 62 years of marriage prior to his death. From their marriage they were blessed with two daughters and a son. Lionel was a graduate of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He spent his career working for DuPont at the Victoria, Texas plant, retiring in 1994 and moving to Paris, Texas in 1997. He was a member of Calvary United Methodist Church. He had a love of restoring cars and tractors, giving extra attention to every little detail. He was a member of the local tractor and antique car clubs, plus a former member of the Victoria Corvette Club. He loved sports and was a diehard SMU Ponies and Dallas Cowboys fan. Lionel is survived by his wife, daughter Sharilyn, son Frank, sister Evelyn Leonhardt (Roland) of DeMotte, Indiana and sister-in-law Charlene Getz of Monroeville, Pennsylvania. He was preceded in death by his parents, daughter Shanna, and brother Ralph Getz (CHS 1952). The funeral service will be 11:00 a.m. Thursday, July 30, 2020, available via Facebook Live on the Bright-Holland Funeral Home page.
(Source: Bright-Holland Funeral Home, July 28, 2020)

Lionel’s main interests during his 1952-1954 years at CHS were in drama and music. He was involved in the Fall Play and Midwinter Play, which qualified his being a member of Wig ‘n’ Paint, a club of the drama department. His participation in Orchestra, A Capella Choir, Troubadors, Spring Ensemble, and Musical Moods earned his membership in Baton Club, a club of the music department. His total music activities earned points to also be a member of Modern Music Masters, an honorary music organization of the music department.
The quote with his senior picture in the yearbook reads….”A man who’s not afraid to say his say.”
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

Lionel and his wife, Georgia, were very supportive of our class reunions. They attended many over the years, including our entire weekend activities.

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
July 29, 2020


Robert M. Haessly, 84, of Urbana passed away Saturday, June 13, 2020, at OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center, Urbana. A private graveside service was held at Grandview Memorial Gardens, Champaign. A celebration of life service will be held at a later date. Robert was born in West Allis, Wisconsin on May 20, 1936, a son of Mathias and Bernice (Dorscheid) Haessly. He married Nancy Smith on April 26, 1969, in Champaign. She survives. Also surviving are two daughters, two grandchildren and three sisters, including twin sister Margaret (Haessly) Davis (CHS 1954) of Champaign. He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother. Robert graduated from Champaign High School in 1954. He served in the U.S. Army from 1954-1957 followed by service in the U.S. Air Force from 1957-1961. He graduated from Parkland College in 1974 with a degree in data processing, which led to working as a computer systems analyst for the University of Illinois Administration Department for 35 years, retiring in 2002. He was a member of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Urbana, where he served in many different capacities with the church, including Parish Council. Memorials may be made to St. Patrick Catholic Church or the Urbana Park District. Condolences may be offered at
(Source: The News-Gazette, Tuesday, June 16, 2020.

During his three years at CHS from 1951-1954, Bob had a slight interest in Track and Wrestling, but was more involved with the Projector-Club, being the Secretary-Treasurer in his senior year. Bob also enjoyed attending our class reunions, however we did miss seeing him at our last reunion in 2019. The caption with his senior picture in the yearbook reads...."A quiet tongue shows a wise head."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)
Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
June 21, 2020


Paula (Bresee) Henry Reagan, 83, died peacefully at her home in Hamden, CT on Sunday, April 19, 2020. She is survived by her husband of 52 years, Joseph E. Reagan, three sons, two daughters, one granddaughter, fifteen grandsons, and three great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by two sons.

Paula was born in Champaign, Illinois in 1937, the third daughter of Paul and Josephine Bresee. She graduated as valedictorian from University of Illinois in three years with a Phi Beta Kappa membership. She then completed a Master’s degree in history from Harvard University. She was accepted to Harvard Law School, in one of the first classes to admit women, but chose to get married and begin a family rather than pursue a legal career. She taught history at Champaign High School until the demands of a growing family took priority. She later worked as a real estate agent/manager.

A love of family, and childrearing, was a defining characteristic of Paula. She was a cheerful and loving mother, taking the chaos of a large family in stride. Paula put her considerable intelligence and acumen into running a household, with her children sometimes wishing she was a little less eagle-eyed when it came to parenting. Paula was a member of Spring Glen Church for over forty years, serving in various roles, including as Senior Deacon and a lay caregiver. Paula found a second spiritual home at Christian Tabernacle Baptist Church, where she faithfully attended the Wednesday Bible Study. The friendships she made at both churches were a source of joy, fellowship and growth in her spiritual walk.

Her faith was both strengthened and tested by the hardships Paula experienced. The early loss of her mother, the death of one son to SIDS and another to cancer, her own battle with cancer in her 40’s, and living with the autoimmune disorder that would eventually lead to her death were all experiences that might have left her embittered. Rather, these trials allowed Paula to grow closer to God, and to develop a deep reservoir of empathy for others. Paula enjoyed traveling, but was happiest in the home she lived in for fifty years. She was especially proud of her roses.

Paula was a beautiful woman, a model in her younger days, but wore her beauty with a casual air that put everyone at their ease. She always looked elegant, but cared little about clothing and actively hated shopping. Paula frequently said, “I want to be buried in my blue jeans”. (She will be.) Paula was deeply loving and deeply loved. She will be greatly missed. Condolences can be sent to Joseph Reagan, 27 Spring Glen Terrace Hamden, CT 06517. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Doctors Without Borders.
(Source: Excerpts from obituary provided by family)

From Dr. Howard Grade School in 1948, Paula entered Champaign Junior High School, where she was elected to Student Council and was interested in drama and singing.
(Source: The 1951 Retro)

During her three years at Champaign Senior High School starting in 1951, Paula was again elected to Student Council; volunteered on the Maroon Staff; sang in A Capella Choir, Vocalettes, and Modernaires; involved in Wig 'n' Paint, GAA and Red Cross; selected to Maroonafins; participated in Fall Play, Mid-Winter Play, Musical Moods, Stunt Show and Exchange Assembly; served on Junior-Senior Prom Committee, Senior Travel Club and Senior Assembly Committee; and earned membership in Baton Club, National Thespians and National Honor Society. The caption with her senior picture in the yearbook reads...."Wish we had blonde hair, too!"
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

Paula is probably the only class member to have a street in Champaign named after her. In the early 1950s, Cecil R. Ozier, along with help from Paul Bresee, developed the Garden Hills Subdivision. Street names in Garden Hills were named after some girls who attended CHS. Paula Drive was named for Paula.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Saturday, July 27, 2019)

Paula attended a few of our class reunions, including our 55th in 2009, which was her last one to attend.
Thank you to classmate Judy Nicolette for providing the news and information about her life-long friend.

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
April 30, 2020


Dorothy Marie (Nash) Reynolds of Urbana passed away at home Friday, April 17, 2020 surrounded by her family, who loved her deeply. Born August 13, 1936 in Herrin, Dorothy was the eldest daughter of Clarence and Jessie Nash. She met the love of her life, Floyd "JR" Reynolds while in high school. They later married on August 28, 1955 and embarked on a 65-year adventure together, including building a close family and traveling extensively. JR survives.

Dorothy was known for her loving nature, generous spirit, and endless hospitality. Her home was always open to others. Dorothy was also an accomplished business woman. She worked as a District Manager for a national insurance company before opening her own formalwear business. She was the President of Reynolds Enterprises for over 25 years, retiring in 2018. Dorothy was an exceptionally devoted wife, mother, grandmother and sister. Besides her husband, she is survived by two daughters; one son; seven grandchildren; one great-grandson and one sister. Both of her parents and one sister preceded her in death. Dorothy was a proud Champaign High School Maroon and a member of numerous social organizations, including multiple roles with Eastern Star, for whom she once served as Worthy Grand Matron of Illinois. She was a member of First Baptist Church of Savoy.

Private graveside services will be held next week, and a celebration of life is planned for August. Donations in her memory can be made to First Baptist Church of Savoy, 1602 South Prospect Avenue, Savoy, IL 61874, or Transitions Hospice, Online condolences and fond memories can be shared with her family at
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, April 19, 2020)

Dorothy was a loyal supporter of the CHS 1954 Class. She attended and participated in all reunions, except our 65th in 2019. She was camera shy in The 1954 Maroon.
Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
April 19, 2020


James R. Freeman, 83, passed away on Wednesday, December 25, 2019 at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, Illinois. He was born on February 3, 1936 in Champaign, Illinois to Glen and Mary (Matteson) Freeman. Jim married Shirley Ann Todd on September 20, 1959 in Champaign. Jim is survived by his wife, two sons, four grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren, and one brother. He was preceded in death by his parents, one son, four sisters, and two brothers. He was an avid Cardinals baseball and Illini sports fan. He loved watching everything sports. He enjoyed fishing, playing fast pitch softball, and running Grandpa's Taxi Service for his grandkids.

A celebration of life service will be held in Jim's honor at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 9, 2020 at Sunset Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Champaign. Lutz Brauning will officiate. Memorial visitation will be held prior from 10:00 until 11:00 a.m. at the funeral home. Memorial donations may be made in Jim's name to St. Jude Children's Hospital. Please join his family in sharing memories, photos, and videos on his Tribute Wall at (Source: Obituary & Services)

Jim lived with his parents on East Beardsley Street across from Beardsley Park in the 1940s and early 1950s. During the 1940s Jim's dad was equipment manager for the Illinois football team, with Jim's mother helping to wash the football uniforms. Jim attended Columbia Grade School, followed by Champaign Junior High School. At Champaign Senior High School, during 1952-1954, he enjoyed sports by lettering in basketball and baseball, which earned him membership in the "C" Club. Also, he was voted King of the Vice-Versa dance. In the opening victory of the 1953-1954 basketball season, when Champaign downed Unity 49-35, Jim's 21 points took individual scoring honors for the game. All season, Jim's scoring was among game leaders for Champaign. In the final game of the season, in the Champaign Sectional against Hoopeston, Jim finished an outstanding season by scoring 29 points, which established a CHS record. In Champaign Maroon baseball, Jim did most of the pitching and was among the top hitters with a high batting average during both his junior and senior years. The caption with his senior picture in the yearbook reads...."When he fights, he fights to win." (Source: The 1954 Maroon)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
January 2, 2020


Dr. Nancy A. Wisely, age 82, passed away in Madeira, Ohio, on November 23, 2019. She was born in Springfield, Illinois on February 4, 1937 to the late William H. Wisely and Hazel A. Steinberg Wisely. Nancy is survived by her husband, Mark R. Jorgensen; her former husband, Augustus A. Mercurio; four sons; nine grandchildren; her sister, Janet Wisely Dickason (CHS 1949) and many cousins, nieces and a nephew. Nancy was a graduate of Champaign High School in Illinois and completed her under-graduate degree at Penn State University, with a Journalism B.A. in 1958. Upon graduation, she worked in advertising for BBDO, a large advertising agency in New York City. Upon marriage to her first husband, she left her job and raised four sons. After her divorce, Nancy resumed a professional career upon graduating from the University of Minnesota with a Sociology Ph.D. in 1993. She was a retired professor from Steven F. Austin State University Sociology Department in Nacogdoches, Texas. Upon retirement, Nancy was active as an artist, a member of book clubs, and memoir group. She was a member of the Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society. A memorial service was held to celebrate her life and art on December 20, 2019.
(Source: The Cincinnati Inquirer, November 26, 2019)

Nancy graduated from Champaign Junior High School in 1951, where she sang with the Girls' Glee Club, and was Feature Editor on staff of the Highlights, the monthly newspaper publication. At Champaign Senior High School, from 1952-1954, she was a member of the National Honor Society; on the Maroon staff, being assistant business manager and co-business manager; on the Chronicle staff; achieved membership in Quill and Scroll; and participated in Wig 'n' Paint, GAA, Red Cross, FFA, Junior-Senior Prom Committee, and Will and Prophecy Committee. The quotation with her senior picture in the yearbook reads...."Always laughing, always gay, always there with something to say."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

Submitted by Judi (Simonson) Winer and Donna (Schum) Matteson
December 27, 2019


Julia (Ingersoll) Wall died peacefully at home in Williamsburg, Virginia on November 20, 2019. Julie, 83, was born on April 29, 1936 in Washington, Missouri to Floyd and Marian Ingersoll. The family moved several times before settling in Champaign. She graduated from Champaign High School before matriculating at the University of Illinois. She graduated in three years with a major in Political Science. Julie married Thomas Robert Wall III on September 7, 1957 in St. Joseph, Missouri. In the late 1970s, the family moved to Bermuda for 17 years. In the late 1990s, she and Tom moved to Williamsburg. Julie was predeceased by her parents. Survivors are her five children, 11 grandchildren, and her ex-husband. Her funeral was held Saturday, December 7, 2019 at St. Bede's Catholic Church in Williamsburg.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, December 4, 2019)

During her years at CHS, Julie was active mainly in singing and music. She was elected to Student Council and National Honor Society; participated in Wig 'n' Paint, National Thespians, Fall Play, Mid-Winter Play, Stunt Show, and GAA; enjoyed A Capella Choir, Vocalettes, Modernaires, Musical Moods, Modern Music Masters, and Dance Band; and found time for State Speech Contest, and Junior-Senior Prom Committee. The quote with her senior picture in the yearbook reads...."Enthusiasm is the breath of genius."
(Source: The 1954 Champaign Maroon)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
December 15, 2019


Belated word has been received from her cousin, that Nancy (Kamerer) Heitzman, 80, passed away last December 23, 2017 in Carmel Valley, California. Nancy had lived in Carmel Valley for the past 50 years, most recently with her daughter and grandson. After receiving her RN degree from the Julia F. Burnham School of Nursing in Champaign, she began her 45-year nursing career. Nancy served as an ombudsman for Monterey County. She bred Doberman Pinchers and traveled to dog shows all over the world as a judge of her favorite breed. Nancy was a long-time member of the Doberman Pincher Club of America. Nancy is survived by one son, one daughter, three grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. Nancy was preceded in death by her husband, her parents, one brother, two sisters, and a nephew. Private family services were held.

During CHS days in school, Nancy was on the Maroon staff; participated in Wig 'n' Paint, GAA, and Maroonafins; and volunteered for activities in Office Helpers, Senior Travel Club, Stunt Show, and Exchange Assembly. The quote with her senior picture in the yearbook reads..."Generally speaking, she is generally speaking."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
December 15, 2019


Isabel (Burgess) O'Neill died peacefully in Champaign on Sunday, July 28, 2019, at the age of 83. She was preceded in death by her husband, Gerald Louis O'Neill (CHS 1954), parents and a brother. She is survived by a daughter, a son, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Isabel was born September 12, 1935, in San Pedro, California. She graduated from Champaign High School in 1954 and the University of Illinois in 1958, with a degree in Elementary Education. Upon graduating from the U of I, she taught second grade at Busey Elementary School. She was married to Jerry on December 22, 1957, and enjoyed 60 years of marriage. She was a devoted wife, as well as a mother, daughter, grandparent and friend. She had a lifetime desire to aid those challenged by deafness, especially children, and focused her energy on supporting the Echo Hearing Institute. Isabel counted her cherished friends as her family, having lost her parents at a young age. She put great importance on building and sustaining family traditions with her children and grandchildren. A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, August 17, at 11:00 a.m. with a one-hour visitation prior to the service from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. at St. Matthew Catholic Church, 1303 Lincolnshire Drive, Champaign. Msgr. Deptula will officiate the service. A reception to celebrate Isabel's life will follow at Silvercreek Restaurant, 402 North Race Street, Urbana, until 3:00 p.m. In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, please send donations to the ECHO Hearing Institute, 611 West Park Street, Urbana, Illinois 61801. Checks should be made payable to Carle Center for Philanthropy/O'Neill Fund. Condolences may be offered at
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, August 4, 2019)

Isabel graduated from Champaign Junior High School in 1951. At CHS, she was involved in many activities and organizations, including: Student Council, State Student Council Convention, Maroon, National Quill and Scroll, Wig 'n Paint, G.A.A., Cheerleader, Office Helper, Red Cross, F.T.A., Stunt Show, Junior-Senior Prom Committee, Will and Prophecy Committee, Senior Assembly Committee, Production Staff, Concert Choir, and Student of the Month April 4, 1954. The caption with her senior picture in the yearbook reads...."To our class, she's an added attraction, a lively girl with lots of pep and energy."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

Sadly, Isabel passed away just thirteen days prior to our 65th Class Reunion. Over the past years she enjoyed attending our reunions. Isabel had just joined us at our monthly class luncheon the early part of July.

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
August 4, 2019

1954 - 2019

Dear Classmates….
This is your invitation to attend our 65th Class Reunion the weekend of August 9-10, 2019, which will be our final organized reunion. Following is a schedule of activities:

~ Lunch Friday, August 9…1:00-2:00 p.m. – Casual come-and-go gathering for early arrivals at Steak ‘n Shake, 1709 South Neil Street, Champaign.

~ Reception Friday Evening, August 9…5:30-8:30 p.m. – Casual get-together pizza party at Papa Del’s-2nd Floor…(the former Coca-Cola building) at 1201 South Neil Street. Cash Bar.
Pizza and salad buffet available at 6:30.

~ Lunch Saturday, August 10…11:30 – 1:00 p.m. – Casual gathering at Houlihan’s , 1900 South First Street located south of State Farm Center/Assembly Hall.
(From Kirby Avenue at Neil Street, go east under viaduct two blocks to First Street, turn right going to Stop sign, arriving at SE corner on left.)

~ Dinner Saturday, August 10…5:00-9:30 p.m. – Banquet sit-down dinner event at Holiday Inn, 101 Trade Centre Drive, Champaign. Social Hour at 5:00 – Dinner at 6:00 in the White Oaks Ballroom.

~ Optional Breakfast Sunday, August 11…7:00-9:00 a.m. – Casual come-and-go farewell at the Holiday Inn State Street Grille Café located in the front lobby area.

Lodging arrangements are available at the Holiday Inn by calling 217-398-3400 and probably should be made one month prior, which would be July 10. When calling, ask for the senior discount.

Our reunion offers a time to remember and a time to enjoy. We hope you can plan to attend.

CHS 1954 Reunion Committee:
Mary Lou (Wilson) Gannaway- (cell) 217-714-7562
Donna (Schum) Matteson-

(Clip and return registration form by JULY 15, 2019 to address below)
Mail to: CHS 1954 Reunion Committee, c/o Mary Lou (Wilson) Gannaway
4006 North Prospect Avenue, Champaign, IL 61822-9465

Phone______________________Cell___________________ E-mail____________________________________

_____person(s) Friday Reception @ $10.00 = $_______________

_____person(s) Saturday Dinner @ $35.00 = $_______________

Meal Selection: Honey Mustard Chicken______ Grilled 6 oz. Flat Iron Steak ____

TOTAL $___________

Make check payable to: “CHS Class of 1954”


Ronald Earl Brown, 82, formerly of Champaign-Urbana, passed away on Monday, January 31, 2019 at home in Round Lake with his wife and daughters by his side. Originally from Champaign, born August 19, 1936, he graduated from Champaign High School with the Class of 1954. He went on to the University of Illinois, focusing on the field of civil engineering. Following his studies at the U of I, he began employment with the Clark Daily Dietz firm in Urbana. In 1972, he and his family moved to Libertyville, where Ron joined Rezek Henry Meisenheimer Gende, Inc. until his retirement in 2005. He always looked forward to spending time visiting with and hearing news about family, friends and classmates. Ron married Patricia Ann Ehrhart on February 7, 1960. He is survived by his wife, two daughters, and three grandchildren. He also leaves behind two sisters, Berniece O. (Richard, deceased) Adair (CHS 1949) and Barbara A. (Ronald, deceased) Schaede (CHS 1951), as well as many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by parents, Robert Theodore and Clara May (Good) Brown; and brothers, Robert E. and Norman G. Brown (CHS 1956). There will be no services, honoring Ron's request. The family asks that any memorial donations be made to the American Heart Association in Ron's name or to an organization of one's choice.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Tuesday, February 19, 2019)

Ron attended many of our class reunions, while at the same time he liked to sightsee the changes in Champaign and visit with his family. He attended grade school in Champaign, CJHS and CHS. While at Champaign High School, he served on the Senior Travel Club in his senior year. The caption with his senior picture in the yearbook reads...."A man of deeds, not words."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
February 21, 2019


Looking back on the Class of 1954's News and Information page, I found this article and may be of interest to some of my classmates.
This song was introduced at Donna Matteson's 55th class reunion, by Jean (Hayes) it is on "You Tube", along with various scenery shots of the Champaign area.
Sung by Carl Perkins. Co-written by Carl and Bob Dylan in 1969

Another song by an Illinois Native, Illinois ~ Dan Fogelberg

While viewing youtube, I found three more that may be of interest that will bring back memories. By Mike Moran
Link to: Illinois State Song with University of Illinois Scenes



Submitted by Harold Keller (class of 1953)
January 28.2019

Hello CHS 1954 Classmates,

Greetings and Happy New Year. The 2019 new year marks 65 years since we graduated from Champaign High School in 1954.
Current plans are to have one final reunion, so please save the dates of Friday, August 9 (pizza dinner party at Papa Del’s…the former Coca-Cola bottling building on South Neil Street during our days in high school) and Saturday, August 10, (65th class reunion dinner celebration at our new Holiday Inn on South Neil Street just south of where the Pines Restaurant was during our days in high school). Further details will follow.

CHS 1954 Reunion Committee
January 16, 2019


Dr. Donald Pierre passed away in Bozeman, Montana on February 7, 2018 from complications due to Parkinson's disease. A gathering was held on February 20, 2018 at the Dahl Funeral and Cremation Service Tribute Center in Bozeman. A funeral mass was held on February 21 at the Holy Rosary Catholic Church. Don was born on July 2, 1936, in Bloomington, Wisconsin. He was raised in Champaign, Illinois, where as a youngster he delivered newspapers, stocked shelves in a grocery store, caddied at a golf course, bussed tables at the local eatery and even worked as a carhop at a drive-in restaurant. In addition, Don spent one summer working on his uncle’s dairy farm and another on a road-repair crew.
Don graduated from Champaign High School in 1954. While in high school, he lettered in football and wrestling. As a senior wrestler, Don placed fourth in the state of Illinois at 154 pounds. He would have a twinkle in his eye when saying he placed fourth in 1954 at 154. He also started as an undersized-offensive guard on his conference-championship football team. Don benefited from his offensive-line coach’s preference for brains, speed and tenacity over muscle and weight. The classroom was another aspect of high school where Don excelled. He was an honors student and was elected class president his senior year.

After high school, Don attended the University of Illinois, Urbana, where he lettered twice in wrestling and was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. He graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering. In 1958, he accepted a Hughes Aircraft Master of Science Fellowship and attended the University of Southern California part-time while working at Hughes. Upon graduating from USC with an MSEE degree in 1960, Don accepted a fellowship to attend the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he earned a Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering in 1962.

In the fall of 1958, Don met the love of his life, Mary Albin, in southern California. They were married in November of 1959 and had three children.

Dr. Pierre came to Montana State in 1962, advancing in rank from assistant professor to associate professor in 1965, and from associate professor to professor in 1969. During his thirty-eight years at MSU, he served for many years as the group leader of the Electronics Research Laboratory Systems, and for five years, he was the head of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department. After retirement in May of 2000, Don continued to work part-time at MSU for another half-dozen years. Don was a long-time member of the Bozeman Council of the Knights of Columbus and a life member of the Elks. He was also a member of the Education Committee of the Gallatin Valley Land Trust (2001 – 2005); a member of the board of directors of the Bozeman Senior Center (2002 – 2008); a mentor in the Bozeman School District Child Advancement Project (CAP) (2001 – 2009); and a volunteer at Monforton School for math contest practice sessions (1995 – 2008).

After his retirement in 2000, Don took on the challenge of writing a western novel entitled “Yesteryears Western Trek.” The story is about a young boy’s adventures in the 1860s as he travels west through the Big Horn Mountains to Montana.

Don had many hobbies he enjoyed during the course of his life. He and Mary loved to square dance, and he dabbled in wine making during his younger years. As he got older, he took up the game of golf and also enjoyed playing pool. His life-long passion, however, was the Green Bay Packers. A shareholder in the Packer organization since 1999, Don rarely missed the chance to cheer on the 13-time world champions during a televised game and was even able to attend a Packers-Eagles game at Lambeau Field in 2013.

Don was preceded in death by his father, his mother, and his older brother, Dale Pierre (CHS 1951). He is survived by his wife Mary Pierre of 58 years and his children: Mike, Louise, and John, as well as his eight grandkids and five sisters and one brother.
(Source: The passing of Donald Pierre news was provided by classmate James Hanafee per his 12-06-18 email)

During the early 1950s, Don lived with his family at 105 East White Street. His father worked for the U.S. Soil Conservation Service. (Source: The Champaign-Urbana City Directory 1950) Don last attended our 45th Class Reunion when he presented the invocation and prayer. The caption with his senior picture in the yearbook reads..."He stands in the ranks of noble men."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
December 19, 2018


Robert "Bob" Carl Murdock, 82, of Champaign, passed away Friday, September 14, 2018 at home. Visitation will be from noon to 1:00 p.m. Monday, September 24, at Renner-Wikoff Chapel and Crematory in Urbana. Funeral services will follow and burial will be in Grandview Memorial Gardens, Champaign.
Bob was born January 12, 1936 in Urbana to parents Maude E. (Schonert) Stuart and Robert S. Murdock, who preceded him in death. Survivors include two sons, Robert and Michael; one sister Betty; three grandchildren; and a one-month old great-grandson. Bob graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Electrical Engineering before serving in the U.S. Army, from which he was honorably discharged. He retired from the U. of I. Operations and Maintenance Division as Chief Electrical Engineer after a career spanning more than thirty years. Bob had interests in genealogy, model railroading, puzzles, and Champaign history. He was an active participant in Minds in Motion, a local program for seniors. Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer's Association.
Condolences may be offered online at
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, September 19, 2018)

During his high school days at CHS, Bob had an interest in the Projector Club and playing football, which qualified him for "C" Club membership. The caption with his senior picture in the yearbook reads...."It's a gay life, the first hundred years are the hardest."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
September 23, 2018


Patricia J. (Schwabe) Hardy, 81, of Champaign, died Sunday, June 27, 2018 at OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center of Urbana. Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m. Monday, June 25, at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Champaign. Burial will immediately follow at Grandview Memorial Garden in Champaign. As per her wishes, there will be no visitation. Pat was born on August 16, 1936, the only child of Paul and Pearl (Combs) Schwabe. She is survived by her beloved dog Bengi, two cousins, an Aunt, and many friends. Pat dedicated her life to helping others, as was evident in both her work and personal life. Until her retirement in 2008, Pat had worked with children at both Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services. She also donated her time to the church, and her belongings to Empty Tomb. She loved to cook for her cousins. She had a loving heart and a generous spirit. Donations can be made to the Holy Cross Catholic Church, 403 West Clark Street, Champaign, IL 61820. And, as Pat would have wanted, do not throw things away. Always donate them to Empty Tomb to help others.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Saturday, June 23, 2018)

Pat attended Holy Cross Grade School prior to ninth grade at Champaign Junior High School. At Champaign High School, with the Class of 1954, Pat participated in Wig 'n' Paint, the Camera Club, and helped on the Junior-Senior Prom Committee. The caption with her senior picture in the Maroon yearbook reads...."I'll gradually get there if you give me time enough."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
June 24, 2018


Lawrence "Larry" Mervin Bowden, 83, of Champaign, passed away peacefully Monday, April 23, 2018 at home surrounded by his wife, daughter, and family friends. As per Larry's wishes, his body will be cremated. A celebration of life will be held at a later date. He was born March 1, 1935 in Champaign, a son of Howard Bowden and Rosa Lee (Geralds) Bowden Pealer. Larry married Fonda Gail (Gawthorp) Warren on August 6, 1983 in Urbana. They were best friends for years and were looking forward to marking their 35th year of marriage. They had one beloved daughter, Tracy Gail Bowden of Champaign. They both survive. He is also survived by one sister, one brother, and step-mother Odessa Bowden. He was preceded in death by his parents and four brothers. Upon graduation from Champaign High School Class of 1954, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and served his country during the Korean conflict, stationed in Japan. He was honorably discharged from active duty on July 27, 1957 and from the Marine Corps Reserve July 27, 1962, at the rank of Corporal (E3). When he returned home, Larry worked for US Postal Service as a clerk/carrier. Later, he had the opportunity to work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he retired as Director of Mail Services, December 31, 1997, with a total of 36 years of service.

Larry always had a smile and an encouraging word or joke. He loved his family and took it upon himself to make sure they were taken care of. He loved traveling, beautiful fast cars, music, Illini football and basketball, the Bears, and dogs. He was a wonderful cook and loved sharing his cooking with others. Fonda and Tracy acknowledge and express their profound gratitude for the excellent care and support provided to Larry during the past four years by the staff of the Carle Home Hospice Services.
Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice Hearts, PO Box 91, Thomasboro, IL 61878, or to the Carle Hospital Home Hospice Services.
(Source: Heath & Vaughn Funeral Home and The News-Gazette, Sunday, April 29, 2018)

At Champaign Senior High School, Larry served on the Jr-Sr Prom committee during his junior year, and participated in the Senior Travel Club during his senior year. His senior picture in the yearbook includes a caption which reads...."Too much study will hurt the brain."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
April 29, 2018


James "Ted" Taylor, 81, of Mandan, North Dakota, died March 29, 2018 at CHI St. Alexius Health in Bismark. Ted was born September 11, 1936 in Champaign, the son of the late Russell and Ada Cole Taylor. After attending high school in Champaign he went on to graduate from Purdue University Northwest-Calumet, receiving his Associate's Degree in Electrical Management. Ted met the love of his life, Lauretta Balog, in Highland, Indiana on a blind date. The two were married in Highland on October 4, 1958. He worked for Dakota Gasification for 15 years and will be remembered more recently as a greeter at the South Walmart in Bismark for ten years. Ted enjoyed coaching Little League baseball, as well as being on the river in his pontoon boat. He shared an affinity for dogs over the years. He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Richard; and an infant sister. He is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years; one daughter; three sons; five grandchildren; six great-grandchildren, and many nephews. There will be no services, as cremation has taken place.
(Source: DaWise-Perry Funeral Services, Mandan, North Dakota, and The News-Gazette, Thursday, April 5, 2018)

During the early 1950s, Ted lived with his parents at 1621 West Park Street. His father was a foreman at Culligan Soft Water Service.
(Source: The Champaign and Urbana City Directory 1949)

Ted played basketball for the Champaign Junior High School Comets, graduating in 1951. At Champaign Senior High School, he continued his interest in sports by playing football, basketball, wrestling and baseball, which earned him membership in "C" Club. He also served on the Junior-Senior Prom Committee. The caption with his senior picture in the yearbook reads...."Don't study your lessons, lesson your study."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
April 8, 2018


Gerald "Jerry" Louis O'Neill died peacefully in Champaign on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, at the age of 82. Jerry is survived by his wife Isabel Burgess O'Neill (CHS 1954); one daughter Diane; one son David; six grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and two brothers, Gene and Richard. Jerry was preceded in death by his parents, John F. and Marjorie O'Neill. Jerry was born on December 22, 1935 in Champaign. He graduated from Champaign High School in 1954 and University of Illinois in 1958, with a degree in Agriculture Economics, and in 1977 with an Executive MBA degree. He served our country in the US Army from 1958-1960 as a 1st Lieutenant in Korea and Fort Knox, Kentucky. Jerry took on a leadership role as President and Board Chairman of American National Bank and later worked for Marine Bank, Bank One, and Chase. He also took the lead for many local charitable and civic organizations for a span of approximately 30 years. Jerry enjoyed golf, racquetball, skiing, and bocce ball, fishing, and watching his children and grandchildren play various sports. A memorial service is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. Saturday, April 7, at St. Matthew Catholic Parish, 1303 Lincolnshire Drive in Champaign. Fr. Rayson will officiate the service. A reception will follow at the Champaign Country Club, 1211 South Prospect Avenue. In lieu of other expressions, send donations to Developmental Service Center, c/o Dale Morrissey, 1304 West Bradley Avenue, Champaign, IL 61821.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, March 25, 2018)

During the early 1950s, Jerry lived with his parents at 1014 West University Avenue.
(Source: The Champaign and Urbana City Directory 1949)

While attending Champaign Senior High School, he participated in wrestling, and joined Future Farmers of America, along with Senior Travel Club. With his senior picture in the yearbook, the caption reads...."I love fun--and fun I have."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
March 25, 2018


Emily Ann Stipes Watts of Champaign and Fennville, Michigan, died Monday, March 12, 2018 in Urbana. Born March 16, 1936, she was the daughter of Royal Arthur Stipes, Jr. and Virginia Louise Schenck Stipes. She married Robert Allen Watts on August 30, 1958 in Champaign. He preceded her in death in 2012. She is survived by son, Edward of East Lansing, Michigan; a daughter-in-law; four grandchildren; and nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by two sons and her sister, Babette (CHS 1950). As a full professor of English at the University of Illinois, Mrs. Watts served the campus as chairwoman of the Athletic Board and Board of Control, and was a member of Task Force, which brought women athletics into the Big Ten. She served on other campus boards and committees, along with being a state level higher education committee member as chairwoman. Professionally, she was a member of many institutes and associations. Other memberships included the UI Foundation, the UI Foundation President's Council, Kappa Alpha Theta, Champaign Country Club, and the First Presbyterian Church, Champaign. Private graveside services will be held. In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, donations in her memory may be given to the University of Illinois Library-Robert and Emily Watts Fund; the University of Illinois Foundation; the First Presbyterian Church, or to a charity of the donor's choice. Condolences and fond memories may be offered on line at
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, March 14, 2018)

During the early 1950s, Emily lived with her family at 804 West University Avenue. Her father owned Stipes Publishing Company and Champaign Letter Shop located at 17 Taylor Street in downtown Champaign. (Source: Champaign and Urbana City Directory 1949) Emily attended Champaign grade schools and CJHS. Like her involvement with many activities in her adult life, Emily was involved in many activities and committees during her CHS 1954 days. She was a National Honor Society member, a Student Council member, Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Chronicle, a Quill and Scroll member, a Girls' Athletic Association member, a Maroonafin Club member, a Speech Team member, and a committee member for Senior Skip Day, Jr-Sr Prom, Junior Ring, and Guidance. The caption with her senior picture in the yearbook reads...."She is not like a star...for her there is only one."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
March 14, 2018


K. Larry Quirk, 81, of Reno, Nevada, formerly of Champaign, passed away on Friday, December 22, 2017, after a battle with cancer. He was born on July 23, 1936, to William and Virginia Quirk. He is survived by one sister and two nieces. Larry was a graduate of the University of Illinois and worked for Delta Airlines his entire career until retirement. According to his wishes, there will be no services.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, December 27, 2017)

During the 1950s, Larry lived with his parents at 1204 North Neil Street. His father was manager for United Auto Supply, an auto accessories and parts store, located at 343-45 North Walnut Street. Larry graduated from Champaign Junior High School in 1951. At CHS, his interests and activities were being on the Chronicle staff as Merit Editor, earning Quill and Scroll membership, Wig 'n' Paint, Fall Play, Mid-Winter Play, Stunt Show, Debate, A Capella Choir, Musical Moods, Red Cross, and Senior Skip Day Committee. Next to his senior picture in the yearbook, the caption reads...."A jester's cap and bell become him well."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

Submitted by Donna Schum Matteson
December 39, 2017


Marvin Otis Myers passed away on November 12, 2017 after a brief illness in Duluth, Georgia. Marvin was born in Hutchinson, Kansas on July 24, 1936 to Donna and Otis Myers. He is survived by his children, Marshall, Scott, Tracy, and Becky; seven grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; his brother Melvin (CHS 1956), and his sister Marsha (CHS 1967). His parents, a daughter, a sister, and a grandson preceded him in death.
After graduation from Champaign Senior High School, Marvin graduated from the University of Illinois and entered the Army as a second lieutenant. During his military career, he served two tours in Vietnam as an Army aviator armed helicopter platoon commander, and aviator team leader with the Army Security Agency, and operations officer of an Aviation Battalion. He was an operations pioneer and creative aviator, and logged 950 hours of combat flying time. He graduated from Airborne School, Ranger School, Flight School, and the Infantry Career Course. His awards include the Silver Star, Bronze Star with cluster, 26 awards of the Air Medal, two with V for Valor, Army Commendation award with cluster, and one with V for Valor, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and Vietnam Service Medal.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Marvin owned and managed tractor dealerships, owned a Christian bookstore, owned a farm, and owned a small manufacturing company in Duluth, Georgia. During the 1980s, he began work as an advocate for Veterans suffering from illnesses related to the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam. In the 1990s, he founded the Georgia Vietnam Veterans Alliance, an award-winning charity, and served as the president until his passing. He also served on the National Board of the Vietnam Veterans of America. He led the petition to the Georgia State Legislature to create a veterans cemetery in Milledgeville, and was saluted as the veteran representing Georgia in USA Today's commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam war. Marvin served veterans until his death at 81. He was a member of the Duluth Methodist Church and various veteran organizations.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, November 22, 2017)

While attending Champaign Junior High School, Marvin lived with his parents at 1400 West Green Street. His father owned a women's clothing store downtown at 113 West Church Street. At CJHS, Marvin was interested in sports, and participated in Boys Glee Club and the Social Dancing activity club. At Champaign Senior High School, he played football, wrestled, attained "C" Club membership, and was in the Senior Travel Club. His senior picture in the yearbook has the caption...."I envy no man that knows more than myself, but pity him that knows less."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
November 23, 2017


Olivetta Schoffner Benton, 81, of Champaign, died at home surrounded by her family on Saturday, July 15, 2017. There will be a visitation from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Thursday, July 20, at Owens Funeral Home, 101 North Elm Street, Champaign. Burial will be private at Lincoln Cemetery, Urbana. Olivetta was born on September 20, 1935, in Pulaski, a daughter of Israel and Dora (Schoffner) Huffman. She was preceded in death by her parents and her sister, Ruth Aker. Survivors include her three children, two grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. Olivetta graduated from nursing school in 1977. She worked as an LPN at Mercy Hospital and Cole Hospital, earning her retirement in 1989. She lived, loved and cherished her family. They were her everything and they will sorely miss her.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Tuesday, July 18, 2017)

Olivetta participated in G.A.A. while at Champaign Senior High School. She was camera shy, but the quote next to her name reads..."The very idea of letting your studies interfere with your social duties."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon, page 43)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
Wednesday, July 19, 2017


James Gannaway, 80, of Champaign, passed away on Tuesday, April 11, 2017, at Presence Covenant Medical Center, Urbana. James was born in Urbana April 25, 1936 and married Mary Lou Wilson (CHS 1954) on December 14, 1957. He is survived by his wife, two daughters, three grandchildren, his brother Russell (CHS 1957), and sister-in-law Julie; and five nieces and nephews. James graduated from Champaign High School in 1954 where he was active in baseball, wrestling, basketball and football. He played third base for the 1960 Illinois Fast Pitch State champion team, General Cable of Monticello. He enjoyed all sports and was an Illinois Certified Official for 35 years. He was honored to have worked three girls' basketball and three boys' baseball state tournaments. He served his country in the Illinois Army Reserves from 1958 to 1964. He worked for the Champaign Unit 4 Schools. James was a member of First United Methodist Church of Champaign, Champaign-Urbana Elks, Champaign Officials Association, and the Champaign Central C-Club. Funeral services were held Saturday, April 15, 2017, followed by burial in Grandview Memorial Gardens in Champaign.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Thursday, April 13, 2017)

Jim "Turp" received his football letter in 1953 as a half back from Coach Tom Stewart at the Football Parents Club banquet. In wrestling, Jim wrestled eight times during the season in the 127 weight class and received his letter at the annual banquet dinner, traditionally prepared by Mrs. Swindell. Also, in his senior year, he was Tri High King. The quote with his picture in the CHS yearbook reads...."He came, he saw, she conquered."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
April 18, 2017


Barbara K. (Farrell) Globensky of St. Joseph, Michigan, passed away on Wednesday, November 23, 2016, at her home. Barb was born in Evanston, Illinois to Robert and Pauline Farrell. She earned both a bachelor's and master's degree in education from the University of Illinois and was a lifelong Illini fan. She and her first husband, Ross Latham, Jr., were married in 1961 and lived in Adrian, Michigan for the next 20 years, where Ross was a professor of chemistry at Adrian College and Barb was a substitute teacher for the Adrian Public Schools. In 1984, Barb married John L. Globensky. At that time, John was a partner at the law firm of Globensky, Gleiss, Bittner and Hyms. Throughout their 21 years of marriage, they took over 150 major trips, including being in Tiananmen Square on the night of the 1989 uprising. Barb was active in the community as a member of the board of the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra, serving as president for 16 years, as well as the boards of the Economic Club, Monday Musical Club, and Child and Family Services of Southwestern Michigan. She loved to travel, play bridge, golf, bowl, cheer on the Tigers, and spend time with her grandchildren. She is survived by her daughters, Susan and Anne; stepdaughter, Janet; stepson, Jack; three grandchildren; six step-grandchildren; and close friend, Gretchen Rock. A celebration of life service will take place at 11:00 a.m. Monday, December 19, 2016, at First Congregational Church, 2001 Niles Avenue, St. Joseph, with the Rev. Dr. Robert Braman officiating. A private family burial will take place at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to the southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra or First Church of Christ, Scientist, Benton Harbor. Those wishing to leave an online condolence may do so at
(Source: Starks-Menchinger Family Funeral Home, St. Joseph, Michigan)

During Barb's Champaign High School days, she lived with her mother at 502 South Randolph Street. Barb enjoyed being a member of the CHS Class of 1954 as demonstrated by her participation in many school activities. She was on the Maroon staff as Senior Editor in her junior year, and as co-editor in her senior year, qualifying to be a Quill and Scroll member. She participated in the Dramatics Department Fall Play presentation and Choral Reading, which earned her membership in National Thespians. Along with being an Honor Society member and Student of the Month for September 1953, Barb was involved in FTA, Musical Moods, Girls' State, Red Cross and class committees. The quote next to her senior picture in the yearbook reads...."Such popularity must be deserved."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
December 4, 2016


Margaret Belfiore (Giuffre) Schwenk passed on to her heavenly home the evening of September 21, 2016 at age 80, after fighting cancer for almost two years. There will be a visitation from 4:00 - 6:00 p.m., with a Rosary service at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 28 at Owens Funeral Home, 101 North Elm Street, Champaign. The funeral service will be at 10:00 a.m. Thursday at Holy Cross Catholic Church. Interment will be in Woodlawn Cemetery in Urbana.

Margaret was born in Freeport, Illinois on July 2, 1936 to Charles Giuffre and Leonarda Bonavia Giuffre. She moved to Lena, Illinois in 1941 after her father died. She then lived in Rockford before moving to Champaign in 1946, when her mother married Alex Capcioppo. Margaret attended Holy Cross Grade School, Champaign Junior High School, graduated Champaign High School in 1954, and attended the University of Illinois. She married Dean F. Schwenk in 1955 at Holy Cross Church, and they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last November 2015. She was a co-owner and the lifeblood of Dean's Superior Blueprint, working there from 1964 through 2002. Margaret was preceded in death by her parents, step-father, sister Madeleine, and brother Charles Giuffre (CHS 1951). She is survived by her husband, eight children, fourteen grandchildren, and sister Mary Giuffre (CHS 1956).

Margaret was a tireless worker, known for being a fantastic cook, seamstress and homemaker. After retiring, she sewed almost 4,000 flannel baby blankets, which she generously donated to hospitals, charities, family and friends. Margaret was a 70-year member of Holy Cross Catholic Church, attending Mass daily, receiving Holy Communion, and praying the Rosary often. A 25-year breast cancer survivor, Margaret would often tell medical staff she was a "fighter," and that she was "tough." To the end, she had such a strong will to live. Margaret lived a beautiful life as a sweet, strong, giving, amazing woman. A giant person in a tiny package.

Memorial contributions may be made to Holy Cross Catholic Church or School, 405 West Clark Street, Champaign, IL 61820. Condolences may be offered at
Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, September 25, 2016)

In the early 1950s, Margaret lived with her family at 1203 North Champaign. When attending Champaign High School, "Margee" was a serious student and participated in many student activities, including Student Council, Maroon, GAA, Red Cross, Illinois State Student Council Convention, National Honor Society, and served on various committees. The quotation next to her senior picture in the yearbook reads...."Tiny as a ray of sun, and spreads as much light."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

Submitted by Donna Matteson
September 27, 2016


The Champaign High School Class of 1956 arrived in Champaign for their 60th reunion this weekend.
This was the last high school class to graduate from the Green Street building location. They conducted a "moving day" in 1956, with each student helping move library books, materials and supplies to the Champaign Junior High School building on University Avenue, which then became Champaign High School starting with the class of 1957.

The CHS 1956 group gathered Friday evening, July 8, at the old Coca-Cola Bottling Plant building on South Neil Street, which has now been converted to the Papa Del's Pizza Factory. This casual evening was attended by about 90+ graduates and guests, with a private pizza buffet and bar.

On Saturday evening, July 9, the class of about 100+ went to the Champaign Country Club for an informal dinner, followed by a "pass the mic" program. A piano player provided background music during dinner. The reunion organizer indicated this would be their last class reunion.

Submitted by Donna Matteson July 10, 2016


Nola Faye (Bailey) Beasley, 80, of Philo, passed away Thursday, May 26, 2016 at Presence Covenant Medical Center in Urbana. Originally, funeral arrangements were incomplete at Rortvedt Funeral Services of Tilton. No detailed obituary was made available. A memorial service was held at 9:00 a.m. Friday, June 3, 2016 at Freese Funeral Home in Sidney, Illinois.

Nola was born on February 26, 1936, being the second daughter of James N. and Ruth A. Bailey. During the early 1950s, she lived with her parents and sister, Barbara (CHS 1953), at 1004 West White Street.
(Source: The Champaign and Urbana City Directory 1950)

At Champaign Junior High School in eighth grade, Nola participated in the 1949 Fall Revue, along with Paula Bresee, Sandra Hull, and Emily Stipes in the story of "Little Nell". She sang in the Girls Glee Club, worked on the Library Staff, and was involved in the Drama Club.
(Source: The 1950 Retro)

At Champaign Senior High School, in her sophomore year with the Class of 1954, she was a member of the Girl's Athletic Association.
(Source: The 1952 Maroon)

Nola had been on the CHS Class of 1954 mailing list for many years with an address in Prattville, Alabama.

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
June 5, 2016


Thomas J. McGuire, 79, of Warsaw, Indiana, and formerly of Champaign, passed away Tuesday, May 10, 2016, in Kosciusko Community Hospital, Warsaw, Indiana. He was born July 21, 1936 in Urbana, to Ralph and Mary (Hull) McGuire. He was united in marriage to Jean L. Anderson on February 29, 1960. Tom graduated from Champaign High School, and then attended Danville Community College and also Parkland College. He worked for Keefer Stuart Pharmaceutical Sales before becoming a police officer for the City of Champaign, where he faithfully served from 1958 until his retirement in 1991. He attained the rank of Sergeant in the Patrol Division and also served as a Detective and member of the Department Pistol Team, where he competed statewide. In retirement, Tom had a business buying and selling collectible toys and antique toys. Wind-up toys were his passion and specialty.

Tom is survived by his wife of 56 years, Jean L. McGuire; two children, Pamela and Michael; two sisters, Mary Ann and Patricia; two grandchildren; and two step-grandchildren. Memorial services will be at 3:00 p.m. Saturday, May 28, 2016 at Morgan Memorial Home in Savoy, with Police Chaplain, the Rev. David Ashby, officiating. Immediately following the service a visitation will be held. Private inurnment will be in Mt. Olive Cemetery, Mayview.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, May 25, 2016)

Tom was a classmate during Champaign Junior High School and at Champaign High School with the class of 1954. However, he was considered a senior with the class of 1955. In The 1955 Maroon, Tom was listed as "Camera Shy."
Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
May 27, 2016


John "Jack" Michael Tucker, 80, of Savannah, Georgia, and husband of Annette Bauer Tucker, died Thursday morning, January 14, 2016 at Hospice Savannah. Born in Champaign, Illinois on January 1, 1936, he was the son of the late John Tucker and the late Clara Ducey Tucker. As an accountant, he was a partner in the firm of KPMG. Taking an early retirement, Mr. Tucker began his second career at Kent State University, where he taught accounting for ten years. In addition to his wife of 50 years, he is survived by one son, Michael; two daughters, Shelly and Jannette; and three grandchildren. A funeral Mass will be held at 11:00 a.m. Thursday morning, January 28, at St. James Catholic Church, Savannah, Georgia. (Source: Gamble Funeral Service, Inc., 410 Stephenson Avenue, Savannah, GA)

During the 1950s Jack lived with his parents at 620 West Clark Street. His father was Parts Manager at Reeder Auto Sales located at 41 East Washington Street, Champaign. His mother was Manager at Goldstein Millinery Co. at 125 West Church Street, Champaign.
(Source: Champaign and Urbana City Directory 1950)

Jack attended Holy Cross Grade School before attending ninth grade at Champaign Junior High School, graduating with the class of 1951. At CJHS, he was in homeroom 9-4. (Source: The 1951 Retro) During his three years at Champaign Senior High School in 1952, 1953 and 1954, Jack was mainly interested in writing about sports, or participating in sports. He was on the Chronicle staff all three years, being the Assistant Sports Editor in his senior year. This work in journalism earned him membership in Quill and Scroll, being the Treasurer in his senior year. He enjoyed running on the Track and CC Cross Country teams, being the Captain of the 1953 Cross Country team. During the 1953 track season, the two-mile relay in 8:37.2 was a new CHS school record run by Jack and his teammates Larry Bumpus, Darrell Starkey, and Jim Withrow. Jack played basketball in 1953 and switched to being the basketball team manager in 1954. His participation in track, cross country, and basketball earned him "C" Club membership. Jack also found time to be Sophomore class vice president and helped with the Junior class ring committee. He was recognized in May 1954 as the "Outstanding Student of the Month."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon) Jack enjoyed attending a couple of our class reunions.

Those wishing to send online condolences can go to Gamble Funeral Service, Inc., click on Obituaries, click on John Michael Tucker, and proceed to send your condolence.

News of Jack's passing was received from his classmate friend, Harold Edwards.

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
January 24, 2016


Donnabelle Kirby, 105, departed this life on Thursday, May 21, 2015. She was born on July 10, 1909 in rural Douglas County. She married Francis "Frank" Kirby on June 25, 1945 at University Place Christian Church, Champaign. He departed this life on June 10, 1995. Mrs. Kirby is survived by a nephew, two nieces, and 18 great-nephews and great-nieces. She was preceded in death by her parents, two brothers, three sisters, six nieces and nephews, and one great-nephew. Mrs. Kirby received her Bachelor of Science and Masters degrees in Education, and completed course work toward a Ph.D. in Physical Education from the University of Illinois. While a student at the University of Illinois, she excelled in track and field, gymnastics, soccer, and field hockey. In the spring of 1928, at a Woman's Track and Field event with Big 10 schools participating, she set a new track record of 11.6 seconds in the 100-yard dash. In 2003, at the age of 94, she was awarded a Varsity "I" because of her participation in women's sports at the University of Illinois.

Her teaching career began at the Baldwin School in Sadorus Township. Her transportation to school was to ride her horse "Molly" from her parent's country home in Douglas County. One of the farmers near the school kept "Molly" until the school day was over, when she and "Molly" returned home. In the fall of 1929, she was hired for the Pesotum school system. In 1936, she joined the Decatur school system, followed in 1943 by a move to LaGrange at Lyons Township High School. In the fall of 1945, Mrs. Kirby began her long and highly successful career in the Champaign Unit 4 schools....first at Champaign Junior High School, and then in 1956 to Edison Junior High School, from which she retired as Senior Physical Education teacher and Chairman of the Department.

Memorial donations in remembrance may be made to the donor's choice. Visitation will be from 5 to 7:00 p.m. Thursday, May 28, at Morgan Memorial Home. Funeral services will be at 1:00 p.m. Friday, May 29, at the funeral home. Burial will follow in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Champaign.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Tuesday, May 26, 2015)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
May 27, 2015


Last year there was a dedication of the new Roger Ebert statue located in front of Champaign's Historic Virginia Theatre. Even though Roger is no longer with us, the Ebertfest continues.

Photos courtesy of JoAnn (Joyce) Pairman, CHS 1958


John M. Key, 79, of Urbana, died at 12:30 a.m. Monday, May 18, 2015 at Presence Covenant Medical Center, Urbana. He was born in Champaign on February 1, 1936 to Maurice Key and Mary Handley Key. John married Darlene Loitz of Chicago on April 6, 1972. She died in 2001. He is survived by one son, John David Key of Urbana. John was a 1954 graduate of Champaign High School and graduated from the University of Illinois in 1958. In 1959, he joined the U.S. Armed Services and was stationed in Alaska. For many years, John was manager of the UI Horse Farm. In 2005, John married his present wife, Jan, who survives. He is also survived by a stepdaughter, two stepsons, five step-granddaughters and three step-great-grandsons.

Memorial Services will be at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, May 30, at Renner-Wikoff Chapel, 1900 South Philo Road, Urbana. Donations in John's memory may be made to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation or to Gideon Bibles International.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, May 24, 2015.)

While at CHS, John played center on the basketball team in his sophomore, junior and senior years, wearing number 54 on his uniform in his senior year. He participated in track during his junior year and was honored to wear a "C" as a member of "C" Club in his senior year. The caption with his senior picture in the yearbook reads...."The mind is the proper judge of the man."
(Source: 1954 Maroon, pages 31, 76 and 114)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
May 25, 2015


I first met John in 1945. After the War, along with my Mom and Dad, I was living temporarily with my grandmother, who had a rooming house for students on West California Street in Urbana, just West of Lincoln Avenue. I attended fifth grade at Leal School and John attended fourth grade. The Key family lived in an apartment building in the 500 block of South Goodwin Avenue in Urbana where the Krannert Center for The Performing Arts is now located. I was a Cub Scout and John's mother was the Den Mother holding meetings in their apartment. I attended the Cub Scout meetings along with John.

Submitted by Phil Matteson, CHS 1953
May 25, 2015


Russell A. Law of Mahomet passed away at the age of 78 on Friday, October 3, 2014. He was the beloved husband of Shirley Adkins Law for 51-1/2 years. Russ was born in Champaign on May 20, 1936, to parents Glenn "Newt" Law and Genevieve Hess Law. Glenn Law was the Illini head wrestling coach and assistant football coach in the late 1940s. Russ began his career with Whetzel Construction where he became superintendent. Later, at his own company Cardinal Crane Service, he built many of our interstate overpass bridges, including the Sangamon Bridge by the Mahomet Dairy Queen. He served as a trustee in Newcomb Township for many years. In 1980, Russ and Shirley started Cardinal Pool & Outdoor in Mahomet, which later moved to Champaign. The business continues to operate with Shirley, the next two generations, and Russ' crew. He is survived by his wife, Shirley; a daughter; two sons; and three grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Kenneth. In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, those wishing to make a memorial contribution may do so to Russ Law's College Fund for Ben, Hannah and Sam at Heartland Bank, 2101 West Springfield Avenue, Champaign, IL 61821. Rortvedt Funeral Services & Crematory in Tilton is assisting the family. Online condolences may be offered at
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, October 8, 2014)

During the early 1950s, Russ lived with his parents at 504 South James Street. After graduation from Champaign Junior High School in 1951, he entered CHS and was on the Maroon staff in his junior year. The caption with his senior picture in the yearbook reads "Almost to all things could he turn his hand."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon, page 31)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
October 8, 2014


Belated information has been received that Patricia Ann "Pat" Hagan Goeppner, 76, Normal, died Saturday, June 30, 2012 at McLean County Nursing Home, Normal, Illinois. A memorial Mass was held at Holy Trinity Church in Bloomington, with inurnment at St. Mary's Cemetery in Bloomington. Pat was born November 18, 1935 in Urbana, the daughter of Thomas and Annah Faye Graeber Hagan, Sr. She married Ervin Goeppner on June 22, 1968 in Bloomington. He survives, along with two daughters, four grandchildren, and a niece. She was preceded in death by her parents, a sister, and two brothers. Pat attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and graduated with a nursing degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She taught psychiatric nursing at Illinois Wesleyan University, was a charge nurse at Mennonite Hospital, and served as the Director of Nursing at McLean County Nursing Home for many years.
(Source: August 13, 2014)

During the early 1950s Pat lived with her family at 307 West Green Street, across from the high school. Her father was President of the Commercial Bank of Champaign. (Source: Champaign and Urbana City Directory 1950) Pat attended Holy Cross Grade School and Champaign Junior High School. At CHS, starting in 1951 through graduation in 1954, she was active in many organizations and committees, including Student Council, Maroon, GAA, Concert Choir, Junior-Senior Prom Committee, Senior Assembly Committee, Senior Skip Day Committee, Quill and Scroll, Wig 'n' Paint, and National Honor Society. The caption with her senior picture in the yearbook says...."Friendship is constant in all things."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon, page 28)

Classmate Judy Simonson Winer recalls, "a group of us used to ride around with Pat in her dad's big, black Cadillac after the Friday night football games."

Submitted August 21, 2014 by Donna Schum Matteson


Dear Classmates...our 60th reunion activities the weekend of August 8-10 kept attendees moving from Friday afternoon through Sunday morning. Maybe too much for some and very tiring for others, but we had good attendance for each gathering.

Starting with lunch at Steak 'n Shake for early-bird arrivals on Friday, we had a very surprising total of about 21 people. We did not see anybody cruising the parking lot....if they were, they were looking for a parking space.

Friday evening, a total of 50 gathered at the Hilton Garden Inn for a reception, along with a couple of classmates from other classes....Bob & Suzanne Slade (CHS 1953), Sharron (Vogt) Vaught (CHS 1956), and Carol Carter...sister of Larry Quirk.

Saturday we met at Houlihan's restaurant at the I Hotel for lunch, with approximately 26 attendees.

Then, the Saturday evening main event for a total of 73 was at the Hilton Garden Inn. Many classmates were still invigorated, but were ready to relax with a nice buffet dinner, including delicious desserts. The program was moderated by Judy (Dawson) Nicolette. A moving Memorial Service was conducted for the 21 classmates lost since our last reunion, which makes an overall total of 78 deceased classmates. Every classmate received a Class Directory and a CHS 1954 souvenir pen light.

Sunday morning breakfast started at 7:00 a.m. at the Hilton Garden American Grill for approximately 22, where we said our good-byes.

In review, this reunion was well received by all....will we strive for a 65th?

The attendance by classmates is a true measure of a successful reunion, and we extend thanks to those classmates who attended from near and far.

Stay healthy and.....Thanks for the Memories.

Reunion Committee


As we prepare to celebrate our 60th class reunion, we pause to celebrate the life of a classmate, Judith "Judy" Dowell, 77, of Yorba Linda, California, formerly of Champaign, who passed away at 5:56 p.m. Friday, June 20, 1014, at Western Medical Center, Santa Ana, California. There will be no local visitation and services. Entombment will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday, July 1, 2014, in Mt. Hope Mausoleum, Champaign. Heath and Vaughn Funeral Home, 201 N. Elm Street, Champaign, is handling arrangements.

Judy was born October 29, 1936, a daughter of E. Mack and Ione (Smith) Dowell. They preceded her in death. She is survived by a sister, Bonnie L. Claudin of Yorba Linda. Judy was a graduate of Illinois Commercial College, Champaign, and worked in the finance field. She was a member of University Place Christian Church, Champaign. Condolences may be offered at:
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, June 29, 2014)

During the 1950s, Judy lived with her family at 204 North Fair Street. Her father was a well-known local sign painter.
(Source: Champaign and Urbana City Directory 1950)

During her 1952 sophomore year at CHS, Judy was on the Maroon staff and the Speech Team. In her 1953 junior year, she helped on the Junior-Senior Prom Committee. Her main interest all three years at CHS was being active in the Dramatics Department. She was a member of the Wig 'n' Paint Club, being involved with the Fall Play, Mid-Winter Play, and Contest Play productions. All of her drama work led toward membership in National Thespians and serving on the Drama Board.
The caption with her senior picture in the Maroon yearbook reads...."The way to be happy is to make others happy."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon, page 25)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson.
June 29,2014


From the reunion mailing in April, sad news has been learned about one of our classmates. Dale D. Koss, 77, of McHenry, Illinois, passed away Sunday, November 18, 2012. He was born September 10, 1935 in Champaign to Alfred and Olga (Lietz) Koss. On September 4, 1957, he married Lois Miller (CHS 1957) in Champaign. Since 1989, he was employed at Centegra Northern Illinois Medical Center in McHenry as an x-ray technician. He was an active member of Faith Lutheran Church in Geneva since 1980. He was an avid gardener, a dog lover, and enjoyed fishing. He was a good listener who had a calming influence on others. Survivors include his wife, three children and seven grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents.
(Source: The Northwest Herald, November 22, 2012)

During the early 1950s, Dale lived with his parents at 1215 West Washington Street. His dad was a laborer for E.N. DeAtley Construction Co. located at 512 West Eureka Street.
(Source: Champaign-Urbana City Directory 1950)

At Champaign Senior High School in 1952, during his sophomore year, Dale was on the Chronicle staff. Then, in his junior year in 1953, he was on the Maroon staff. The quote with his 1954 senior yearbook picture states...."Men of few words are the best men."
Source: The 1954 Maroon, page 31)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
May 4, 2014


Word has been received from Geralyn Johnson-Reis that her father, our classmate Dale H. Johnson, passed away in 2012 after a brief illness. She relates that, "We miss him every day. He had many wonderful stories about his days in high school, and we all consider Champaign-Urbana as one of our hometowns. If any members of the CHS 1954 class have stories or memories about my father they would like to share with me, my e-mail address is I would treasure those notes."

Niantic, Connecticut--Dale H. Johnson, 76, the beloved husband of the late Joanne Johnson, and devoted father and grandfather, passed to eternal life Friday, July 27, 2012, surrounded by his children. Born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois on July 17, 1936, Dale was the only son of Grace (Chamberlain) Johnson and Henning Johnson. After serving four years with the U. S. Navy on the submarine Blenny, he worked as an electrical engineer for General Dynamics at the Electric Boat Shipyard in New London, CT. He was a Eucharistic Minister at Saint Agnes Church in Niantic, and was president of the Saint Vincent DePaul Society, where he and Joanne organized holiday food donations and other events. He was a past Grand Knight for the Knights of Columbus, and a member of the American Legion. He greeted voters as election coordinator for many town elections. Dale married Joanne Zito on February 15, 1958 at Saint Mary's Church, New London. They celebrated 51 years of marriage and were long-time companions, until her death on December 2, 2009. He was an enthusiast of the Fighting Illini, the UConn Huskies, antique cars, and good meals shared with good company. He will be fondly remembered as a caring and loving gentleman. Dale leaves his children, Geralyn Johnson Reis, Janice Stingle, and Thomas Johnson, as well as six grandchildren.
(Source: Neilan Funeral Home, Niantic, CT website.)

During the early 1950s, Dale lived at 103 East Armory Street with his widowed mother, who worked as a stenographer at the University of Illinois. (Source: Champaign and Urbana City Directory 1950) After graduation in 1951 from Champaign Junior High School, Dale started at Champaign Senior High School, being active in drama, singing, and sports. During his 1951-52 sophomore year, he joined the Drama Club, Wig 'n' Paint; sang in the male vocal group Troubadors, and participated in cross country and tennis. In his 1952-53 junior year, he continued in the Wig 'n' Paint Drama Club, taking part in the mid-winter play shop, helping on the production staff, which together earned him membership in National Thespians, the honorary dramatic society, and participated in cross country and football. In his 1953-54 senior year, he maintained membership in Wig 'n' Paint and National Thespians with production staff work, and having a part in the mid-winter play and contest play; joined the senior travel club, and sang in Troubadors, A Capella Choir, and Musical Moods. For his drama acting, Dale is remembered for his part in "The Valiant" production. The caption with his senior picture in the yearbook reads...."Greater men than I have lived, but I doubt it."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon, page 30)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
March 30, 2014


The CHS Maroons ended the 2012-2013 basketball season 5W - 20L and had not won a Class 3A Regional title in six years. CHS started the current season with new coach Wayne McClain, who previously coached high school championship teams at Peoria Manuel, followed by years as assistant coach under Lou Henson at the University of Illinois.

On Friday night, March 7, the Maroons (16W - 10L) knocked off cross-town rival Centennial (24W - 4L) 50-45 at a sold-out Combes Gym to capture the Class 3A Regional Championship. The Maroons became the best in town, beating both Centennial and Urbana, and now the best in the regional.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Saturday, March 8, 2014)

On Tuesday night, March 11, the Maroons (17W - 10L) beat the second ranked Class 3A team in Illinois, stunning the Springfield Lamphier Lions (25W - 2L) 78-73 in the Class 3A Sectional semi-final game in Mattoon. The Maroons withstood an attacking 1-3-1 zone defense the Lions displayed and made critical plays in the second half to prevail, while never trailing in the game.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, March 12, 2014)

On Friday night, March 14, the CHS Maroons (18W - 10L) played top-ranked Lincoln Railsplitters (32W - 2L) in the championship game of the Class 3A Sectional Tournament in Mattoon in front of a sold-out crowd of 2,200. March Madness turned to March sadness, as CHS lost 47-30. The Maroons are not champions of the state, but are definitely champions of Champaign-Urbana for 2014.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Saturday, March 15, 2014)

C-C-CHS! Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
March 16, 2014


Responding to the recent 60th Reunion announcement mailing, the daughter of Sondra (Strong) Gullett has graciously provided information that her mother passed away in January 2012 of cancer. After graduation from Champaign Senior High School, Sondra married William B. Gullett. In 1967, they moved to Bellevue, Nebraska, when Bill was transferred to Offutt Air Force Base. After raising her children, Sondra became a real estate agent and a small business owner. She is survived by three children; Jennifer, Julie, and William; eight grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. She was preceded in death by her husband in September 2008.
(Source: E-mail from Jennifer Gullett McQueen dated February 2, 2014)

During her school years at CHS, Sondra was outstanding in scholarship, becoming a National Honor Society member in both her junior and senior years. She was active in the Dramatics Department, working on all major presentations as a Production Staff person, which earned her Wig 'n' Paint membership during her sophomore, junior and senior years, along with earning the required points for Thespians (the honorary Dramatics society) membership in her senior year. She was a Maroon yearbook staff typist for two years, accumulating points on effort and dependability to become a member of Quill and Scroll in her senior year. Also, Sondra served on the Junior-Senior Prom Committee in her junior year, and on the Senior Commencement Committee in her senior year. The descriptive quote with her senior picture in the 1954 Maroon reads...."Keen sense, nonsense, and plenty of room for common sense."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon, page 40)
Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
February 5, 2014


From the recent mailing to announce our 60th reunion this year, word has been received about Jack D. Baum passing away in 2005. For many years his mailing address was unknown for our class records.
It is believed that Jack was living in Nevada at the time of his passing, according to the husband of Rosemary Baum Decker (CHS 1951), who was a cousin to Jack. During the early 1950's Jack lived with his parents at 1514 West Healey Street. His father was an employee at Fairchild Camera. While at CHS during his junior year, Jack was selected as one of the junior boys to represent CHS at Boys State conducted in Springfield. Qualifications for this selection included dependability, honesty, and personality. The reading with his senior picture in the 1954 Maroon says...."He did have a way, but what was it?"
Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
January 26, 2014


Belated information has been received regarding Barbara A. Whelan, who died during 2010 in Dayton, Ohio. After graduation from Champaign Senior High School, she attended the University of Illinois and later completed her career education at St. John's College of Nursing in Springfield. Barbara lived for many years in Springfield and retired from the Illinois Department of Public Health as a registered nurse, earning certification as a Nurse Practitioner. About 2004, she moved from Springfield to Dayton, Ohio to be near her brother and his family. During the 1950's, she lived with her parents and brother Michael (CHS 1957) at 402 South Fifth Street. Her father was a janitor at the University of Illinois, and her mother was a clerk at Anderson's Jewelry. In her sophomore year at CHS, Barbara was on the Chronicle staff and participated in Wig 'n' Paint. During her junior year, she was the Chronicle Feature Editor, with Quill and Scroll membership. Then, in her senior year, she was the Chronicle Associate Editor, with continued membership in Quill and Scroll. The Chronicle in 1954 was among the top ten high school newspapers in its class in the nation, as awarded by the National Scholastic Press Association. Barbara received points for Quill and Scroll membership during both her junior and senior years due to her industrious work on the Chronicle staff, a recognition few classmates achieve. The caption along with her senior picture in the 1954 Maroon reads..."Shyness was never her blame."
Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
January 26, 2014


After years of debate, the site selection for a new Central High School will take place Monday night, December 9. The much-anticipated announcement will not take place Monday night. The School District says it will negotiate a contract with the land's seller before revealing the site. The District Superintendent revealed some details:

....The School Board will wait until next fall's election, at the earliest, to ask voters for a property tax increase.
....The School Board will seek a site with at least 47.7 acres.
....The final site will be decided by how each board member ranks a lengthy list of criteria.
....Once the site is selected, the School Board will allow students, faculty and staff members to give their ideas for what the school needs, which will drive both the building's design and how much money to request from taxpayers.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Thursday, December 5, 2013)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
December 22, 2013


The announcement letter for our 60th Reunion was mailed December 12, 2013. Our reunion weekend will be August 8 thru 10, 2014. The reunion evening dinner will be August 9 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Champaign. High school classmate friendships last a lifetime. Time is very precious. Mark your calendar and plan to attend our 60th Reunion in 2014.

Submitted by CHS 1954 Reunion Committee
December 22, 2013


Edwin "Ed" F. Block, 72, of Stafford, Texas, passed away January 29, 2010, due to a rare neurological disease, MSA, per e-mail dated December 18, 2013 from his wife, Becky. He was survived by his wife, Becky, along with children Barton, Jeffrey, and Stuart, and two granddaughters. The caption with Ed's CHS senior picture reads...."He is quiet a good deal of the time."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
December 22, 2013


Harold "Alex" Alexander, 89, of Arden Hills, Minnesota, passed away on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 in Minnesota. He was born January 4, 1924 in LaHarpe, Illinois. He married Marjorie Roberts on June 13, 1948. He was Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois (Interior Design 1966-1980) and the University of Minnesota. He is survived by a loving wife, Marjorie, of 65 years of marriage; and five children; Jeffrey, Cassie, Peter, Timothy, and Pat; eight grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Alex was active in the Episcopal Church of St. John in Champaign, and St. Matthew of St. Paul, Minnesota. Alex loved art, design, reading, writing, flowers, and traveling all around the world. He always had interesting stories to tell. Memorial service will be held at St. Matthew Episcopal Church, 2136 Carter Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota, on Saturday, November 30, 2013, at 2:00 p.m. Memorials may be made to the McNeely Conservatory at Como Park in St. Paul, Minnesota.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, November 24, 2013)

At Champaign Senior High School in 1950, the school paper reported new teachers on the staff. The article read....New faculty head of the art department is Mr. H. H. Alexander. After attending Western Illinois State College in Macomb, he completed his studies at the University of Illinois. He now resides in Urbana with his wife and son, Jeffrey, who was born on the 4th of July. Mr. Alexander was in the Air Force three years and has been a practice teacher here. Painting and drama are his chief hobbies.
(Source: The Champaign Chronicle, Vol. XXV No. 2, Friday, September 22, 1950)

In our junior year at CHS, Mr. Alexander was a teacher sponsor, who helped us with our Junior-Senior Prom responsibility. We turned the CJHS gym into a scene from Paris called "Ball Parisian." Outdoor cafes' lined both sides of the gym with the Eifel Tower rising at center court to the rafters. The 1952 Maroon stated that the junior class did an extraordinary job on the prom that will be remembered for a long time to come.
Thank you, Mr. Alexander.

Submitted by: Donna (Schum) Matteson
November 24, 2013


.....The Champaign School Board will consider a total of 15 sites for a possible new Champaign Central High School before it starts to narrow that list. The goal is to choose a site for the new high school by the end of the year. More things the Board will have to decide: (1) when to ask taxpayers in an election for a property tax increase, and (2) whether that referendum would ask for money for a new Central High School, or for other renovation projects as well.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Saturday, November 9, 2013)

.....After on-and-off talks dating back almost a decade, Champaign Central High School is closer than ever to having a new mailing address. The school district is considering sites that are 30 acres and larger. That's considerably smaller than the 70 to 80 acres it went searching for in previous years, but a whole lot bigger than the five acres the high school occupies now.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, November 17, 2013)

.....The six site finalists for the new Champaign Central High School were announced late Monday night by the school board. All sites are located north of the city, over two miles from the current location.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, November 20, 1013)

Submitted by: Donna (Schum) Matteson
November 24, 2013


Mrs. Donnabelle Kirby, B.S., M.S., taught girls' physical education, health, Social Dancing, and Tumbling at CJHS during our 7th, 8th, and 9th grade years in 1948, 1949, 1950. She taught at CJHS from 1945 to 1974. Mrs. Kirby was recognized as a pioneer in girls' athletics, and as being a promoter and administrator responsible for the implementation and development of girls' athletic programs at CJHS. She graduated from the University of Illinois in 1935, and at the age of 94 was the oldest recipient to receive a Varsity "I" letter from the University of Illinois at a Recognition Brunch held in the Assembly Hall on Sunday, November 23, 2003. At this same event, our classmate, Ola Bundy, a 1958 graduate of Illinois was also honored with a Varsity "I" letter. Mrs. Kirby will celebrate her 104th birthday on July 10, 2013. If you would like to wish her a Happy Birthday, send a card to Donnabelle Kirby, Prairie Winds of Urbana, Apt. 210, 1905 Prairie Winds Drive, Urbana, IL 61802.

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
July 4, 2013


Edward "Eddie" Lane, 76, of Champaign, died Thursday, April 11, 2013 at home. Funeral services will be at Jericho Missionary Baptist Church in Champaign with the Rev. Willie Jones officiating. Burial will be in Lincoln Memorial Gardens, Urbana. Visitation will start at 11 a.m. Friday at the church. Williams Memorial Services of Champaign is in charge of arrangements.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, April 17, 2013)

In 1952, during his sophomore year at CHS, Eddie took an interest in participating in track. During his junior year, he played reserve football and baseball, plus helping with the Musical Moods production. Eddie was camera shy, but his editorial remembrance quote says..."Here I am, you lucky people."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon, page 43)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
April 19, 2013


The News-Gazette, local daily newspaper in Champaign-Urbana, contains a "From Our Readers" section that publishes letters to the editor. The following letter was published regarding our classmate.

"Neighborhood has lost great friend"...I am saddened by the death of Wendell Merry. Wendell built his house in 1968, one of the very first in the area. He was the kind of neighbor who would mow your lawn while you were out of town and always offered vegetables from his garden and fruit from his trees. Wendell could always be seen walking through the neighborhood, talking to everyone he met. The AmVets2 Neighborhood Watch Group has lost a dear friend and valuable community member. Our condolences go out to his wife, Lu, and their daughters Robin and Laura.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Friday, March 29, 2013)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
March 31, 2013


Sad news continues to dominate Class News to start this new year. Wendell Merry, 76, of Urbana passed away Friday, March 1, 2013 at his home. A visitation will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, at Renner-Wikoff Chapel and Crematory, Urbana, with a funeral service following at 12 p.m. Military rites will be accorded by the Urbana American Legion Post No. 71. Wendell was born March 21, 1936 in Champaign. He married Luella Pracht on December 21, 1963, at Webber Street Church in Urbana. Survivors include his wife and two daughters, Robin and Laura. He was preceded in death by his parents and three sisters. Wendell served in the United States Navy during the Korean Conflict where he learned electrical skills. After service, he began work as an electrician for the IBEW Local 601 for more than 30 years before retiring. He was a member of the Second Wind Running Club for 20 years and still volunteered for races. He also enjoyed traveling with his wife in their RV to Florida, where they spent time with friends in the Mouseketeer Camping Club at Walt Disney World.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, March 3, 2013)

During the early 1950s, Wendell lived with his parents and sisters at 305 West Clark Street. At that time, his father worked as a laborer. (Source: Champaign Urbana City Directory 1950) The caption with his senior picture in the yearbook reads..."What should a man do but be merry."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
March 3, 2013


Joyce Rosalie (Houston) Henke Stewart, 76, of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, died at home surrounded by her children and grandchildren on Saturday, February 16, 2013. Rosalie was born in Shelbyville on March 9, 1936. She spent her life being a loving mother and grandmother, and was passionate about her work as an activities director for the elderly. She is survived by her best friend and brother, Freddie Houston; five children, Laura, James, Theresa, Angela and Jennifer; 10 grandchildren and one great grandchild. Rosalie wanted a quiet celebration of her life with immediate family, which will be held in her style under the sun.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Thursday, February 21, 2013)

Rosalie lived with her parents at 517 Alabama Avenue, having moved to Champaign from Effingham in the late 1940s. She went to Columbia grade school. After high school she moved in the early 1960s to California, and sometime thereafter to Arizona. She had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh. She loved the sunshine and working outside. Rosalie returned to Champaign for her 50th class reunion in 2004 and had a wonderful time seeing old friends and classmates.
(Source: JoAnn Pairman, cousin to Rosalie, e-mail Thursday, February 21, 2013)

While at CHS, Rosalie was on the Chronicle staff and participated in Wig 'n' Paint and G.A.A. during her sophomore year. In her junior year, she again participated in Wig 'n' Paint and G.A.A. and helped on the Jr. Sr. Prom Committee. In her senior year, she was only involved in G.A.A. activities. The caption next to her senior picture in the yearbook reads, "Give me liberty and give me dates."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
February 23, 2013


Sad news has been received from classmate Jack Tucker that his brother-in-law, classmate Jack Schlacter, passed away February 7, 2013 in Coronado Cays, California. After graduation from CHS, Jack and fellow classmate, Jan Blue, joined the US Marine Corps together and remained life-long friends after service, with Jan providing advice and counsel to Jack on his business enterprises and investments. Jack married Angela Tucker (CHS 1956), who passed away in the early 1990s. They lived in southern California for many years, where Jack was an entrepreneur involved in a number of businesses in the Los Angeles area, before he and Angela moved to the San Diego area in the early 1990s. Jack enjoyed his last 20+ years in Coronado Cays, especially his time spent with his friends at the Yacht Club. He and his wife, Evelyn, enjoyed traveling, particularly on international trips. Jack is survived by his wife, Evelyn, and his three children: Kathy and Jack in the Los Angeles area, and Angela in Coronado Cays.
(Source: John M. Tucker e-mail February 10, 2013)

During his days at CHS, Jack participated in football, basketball and tennis during his sophomore year, followed by football and wrestling in his junior year. The caption next to his senior picture reads...."Others loaf, but I am merely resting."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon)

Jack made headline news in the state of California on November 10, 1987 -- Lotto Winner Claims Prize. "A mystery lottery jackpot winner finally stepped forward with a crinkled Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $8.5 million, lottery officials said. Jack Schlacter, 50, of Montclair, claimed the jackpot from Wednesday's drawing, lottery spokesman John Schade said. Schlacter correctly picked all six numbers in the computerized drawing. Schlacter, who owns Allstate Auto Wrecking in Pomona, will receive annual after-tax checks of $342,400 for 20 years."

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
February 10, 2013


John "Jack" Alexander, 76, passed away Monday, January 7, 2013, at Champaign-Urbana Regional Rehab Center, Savoy. Jack was born May 24, 1936 in a farmhouse in Hensley Township. He was the son of the late Melvin and Lois Ehler Alexander. He graduated from Champaign High School Class of 1954. Jack was a farmer until 1998, and a DeKalb seed corn dealer from 1966 to 1998. He worked for Hicksgas for several years after retirement. Jack married Deanna Jean Irle on April 4, 1959 in Holy Cross Catholic Church, Champaign. Survivors include his wife; four daughters, Gayle, Lisa, Laura and Kelli; 11 grandchildren; one great-grandson; one brother, Richard Alexander (CHS 1952); a stepbrother, Glenn Miller, and a stepsister, Betty Barnes-Gaitros. He was preceded in death by a brother, Donald Alexander (CHS 1955) and stepfather, George Miller.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, January 9, 2013)

During his junior and senior years at CHS, Jack was active in Future Farmers of America, F.F.A. He was F.F.A. Treasurer in 1954. The 1954 Champaign chapter was named an outstanding chapter among 19 other chapters in this section. Jack was a member of the team that won the "Soil Conservation" first place in the Land Judging contest at Armstrong. The caption next to his senior picture reads..."All nature wears one universal grin."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon, pages 20 and 91)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
January 15, 2013


Donald R. Hamacher, musician, teacher and co-founder of Dog n Suds, passed away Friday morning in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., January 4, 2013, at 92 years of age. He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Margaret "Maggie" Hunter Hamacher; two daughters, Diane Oberlies, and Jeanine Kuhn-Coker; four granddaughters; and eight great-grandchildren. Don was born in Richmond, Missouri, where his family owned the Hamacher Mill. He had three older sisters who preceded him in death. Don funded his own college education at Missouri University by playing in the Eddie Gibbons dance band. He met Maggie in college, married and started their life together in Robinson. In 1951 they moved to Champaign where Don was a high school music teacher. Always the entrepreneur, Don and another music teacher, Jim Griggs, started a hot dog and root beer drive-in called Dog n Suds in the summer of 1953. In 1975, Don and Maggie moved to North Myrtle Beach, where he continued his love for music and business while obtaining his real estate broker's license. Don was former president, honorary lifetime member and board member of the Long Bay Symphony. He directed the choir at Lakeside Baptist church, started the Grand Strand Singers, was president of the Coastal Concert Association, organized and directed the All City Christmas Cantata, and was grand marshal of the North Myrtle Beach Christmas parade. He was an active member of Ocean Drive Presbyterian Church and sang in the choir. A memorial to celebrate his life will be held Saturday, January 26, at 2:30 p.m. at Ocean Drive Presbyterian Church.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, January 13, 2013)

In 1951, Mr. Hamacher was added to the CHS staff, filling the position as music instructor and assistant to Director, V.C. Shaul. Mr. Hamacher graduated from Richmond High School in Missouri during 1938. He completed undergraduate studies at Missouri University, graduate work at Indiana University, receiving his master's degree from UCLA. He was music supervisor for seven years at Robinson High School. In 1950, he served as director of the concert choir at MacMurray College in Jacksonville.
(Source: The Champaign Chronicle, Vol. XXVI, No. 1, Friday, September 14, 1951)

During his early years at CHS in 1952, 1953 and 1954, Mr. Hamacher worked with boys and girls vocal groups. He directed A Cappella Choir, Troubadors, Concert Choir, Octet, Madrigals, and Modernaires. He also organized, directed and produced "Musical Moods," a program of three moods....religious, classical, and popular.
(Source: The 1952 Maroon, pages 98 and 99; The 1953 Maroon, page 86)

In 2012, a Memoir by Don Hamacher, as told to Gail Ritrievi, entitled "A Journey through Life with Don Hamacher, Co-founder of Dog n Suds" was published.

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
January 13, 2013


James E. Smith, 76, of Urbana, passed away at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at the Champaign-Urbana Regional Rehab Center in Savoy. He was born August 2, 1936 in Urbana to Frank and Helen Creamer Smith. He married Jeanette Wilson and she preceded him in death in 2009. Surviving are two sons, Ronald Ziegler of Swisher, Iowa, and Richard Ziegler of Lombard. He was preceded in death by his wife and one sister, Carol Smith. He was an independent insurance agent for over 30 years in Champaign prior to his retirement. He was a member of the Champaign Lions Club and also a member of Champaign Central High School "C" Club. He was also a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Champaign. Visitation for Mr. Smith will be held from 10:00 a.m. to noon Monday, October 22, at Morgan Memorial Home in Savoy. Funeral services will be held also on Monday at the Morgan Memorial Home at noon with the Rev. Rick Snyder officiating. Interment will take place at Roselawn Cemetery in Champaign. Memorials may be directed to either the Champaign Lions Club or to the Champaign Central "C" Club.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Friday, October 19, 2012)

In the 1950s, Smitty lived at 1407 West Springfield Avenue. His father owned the Frank Smith Agency selling general insurance in the Lincoln Building in downtown Champaign.
(Source: Champaign-Urbana City Directory 1950)

After high school graduation, Smitty was the main organizational person who promoted CHS 1954 class reunions. Before having health issues he was Secretary-Treasurer for the "C" Club for many years, keeping track of members, organizing annual meetings, and helping select Hall of Fame honorees.

Smitty was an active member in his CHS 1954 high school class. During all three years at CHS, he was team equipment manager for football in the Fall, and team equipment manager for baseball in the Spring, which earned him membership in "C" Club. He was Junior class president. In his senior year, he was in S.A.R. and was on the Senior Skip Day committee. He was co-student of the month in January 1954. The caption next to his senior picture reads..."It is a friendly heart that has plenty of friends."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon, page 39)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
October 19, 2012


Beverly (Gleason) Davidson, beloved daughter, wife, mother and grandmother, passed away peacefully on October 7, 2012, at her home in Venice, Florida. She valiantly fought a long illness to the very end, showing courage and strength until the end. She was born to loving parents, Daniel and Isophenia (Parrot) Gleason of Arthur. She joined an older brother Fred Gleason (CHS 1952),who preceded her in death. She was also preceded in death by both parents. She attended Holy Cross and Champaign High School, from which she graduated in 1954. Beverly married the love of her life and her rock, Robert Davidson of Urbana, on March 3, 1953. He survives. They have two daughters and four grandchildren. Beverly was an avid golfer and loved to golf in Illinois during the summer months and Florida during the winter months. It was one of her last wishes to return to see her home and friends in Florida before her passing.
Source: The News-Gazette, Thursay, October 11, 2012)

During the 1950s, Beverly lived with her parents and brother at 402 West Eureka Street in Champaign. In all her three years at CHS, Beverly was a Majorette, and during her senior year she was a member of I.O.O.A. activity club. The caption next to her senior picture reads..."Being good is a lonesome job."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon, page 27)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
October 12, 2012


Robert Gene Darnall, 77, of Monticello, passed away Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at Decatur Memorial Hospital. Gene was born May 24, 1935 in Champaign, the son of Frank and Daisy Harris Darnall. He married Nancy Schubert (CHS 1953) on February 27, 1954 in Champaign. Gene is survived by his wife, two daughters, four grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and siblings; JoAnn, Harold, Hilma and Jack. He was preceded in death by his parents, one son, one grandson, and three brothers; Frank, Jerry and John. Gene retired from Illinois Power after 40 years of service. He was a member of the Champaign High School "C" Club, the Masonic Lodge, and Hamm-Burke American Legion Post 101. Gene built homes in his spare time. Graveside services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Monday, October 8, at Monticello Township Cemetery. No visitation. Condolences may be offered to the family at
(Source: The News-Gazette, Thursday, October 4, 2012)

During his sophmore, junior and senior years at CHS, Gene enjoyed participating in football and track, which earned him membership in "C" Club during each year. During the 1953 season, Gene broke two CHS school track records by running the 220-yard dash in :22.3 and the 70-yard high hurdles in :9.1 seconds. (Source: The 1954 Maroon, page 125) The caption next to his senior picture reads..."Studies are alright if you don't take them seriously."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon, page 24)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
October 6, 2012


Ray Evans, 77, of Greentown, Indiana, passed away Saturday, September 8, 2012 at Kindred Transitional and Rehabilitation Center, Kokomo, Indiana. He was born March 27, 1935 in a log cabin in Shelby County, Illinois, son to the late Phon and Verna Tucker Evans. On December 16, 1961, he married Beverly Ruth Gilliland at the Bondville Methodist Church in Bondville, and she survives. He was a proud veteran of the U.S. Navy, serving as engineman third class frm 1955 to 1959 on the USS Rochester. After military service, he attended Parkland College in Champaign and Mount Vernon Bible College in Ohio, becoming an ordained minister in 1977. He is survived by two sons, a daughter, his brother John, his sister Diana Sawyer, and his seven grandchildren. A celebration of life memorial service was held Wednesday, September 12, 2012, in Converse, Indiana. Military rites were provided by the American Legion Post 317. He will be buried at sea by the U.S. Navy.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Friday, September 14, 2012)

The caption under the CHS senior picture of Ray reads..."His words are simple, his heart sincere."
(Source: The 1954 Maroon, page 25)

Submitted by: Donna Matteson


Word has been received by e-mail communication from the Baker family in Scottsdale, Arizona that Charles Baker collapsed at home Saturday, April 28, 2012 in the afternoon, and on Tuesday, May 1, 2012, he passed away. The family decided not to hold a funeral visitation or memorial service, because their dad always said he did not want people sitting around at a memorial for him. Rather, the family prefers that he be remembered as a compassionate, generous and fun-loving person who touched many lives.

After high school graduation Chuck entered the University of Illinois to study Business Administration. During the first semester, in early 1955, he made a quick decision with a friend to enlist in the Army. During his three-year duty, he was stationed at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico until January 1958. With Army duty completed, Chuck married Annetta. In late 1958 he started work with his mother in the family women's apparel business, known as Baker's Apparel, with locations in Urbana, Hoopeston, Rantoul and Paris. During this time, his family became established with daughter Kimberly, son Mark in 1960, and son Cory in 1964. After 22 years in the apparel business, he sold the last store in 1980. Until 1985, he worked in Springfield for the State of Illinois Department of Commerce. In April 1985 he moved his family to Arizona to get a new line of work. He obtained a state license to be a mortgage broker, from which he retired.

Chuck was born in Galesburg, Illinois in 1936. About 1937 his parents moved to Urbana, where his father opened a J.C. Penney Department Store, and Chuck started grade school in Urbana in 1943. After his parents moved again to a small house in Champaign in 1946, he went to Dr. Howard Grade School for 4th through 6th grade. Then, on to Champaign Junior High School and Champaign High School, graduating with the Class of 1954. At CHS Chuck participated in Wig 'n' Paint, National Thespians, Cross Country, Tennis, A Capella Choir, Rifle Club, Contest Play, Fall Play, Mid-Winter Play, and Senior Travel Club. During his days at CHS and his adult life, Chuck was a super friendly, caring, and fun-loving person. The caption alongside his senior picture reads...."God save the King, I'll save the Queen."
(Source: 1954 Maroon, page 20.)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
May 24, 2012

A Teacher Remembered

Thomas C. "Tommy" Stewart, 86, of Champaign, passed away Sunday, March 25, 2012. Thomas was born October 9, 1925 to Thomas C. and Elizabeth Crawford Stewart in Gary, Indiana, and married Lulu Belle Nash in June 1950. He is survived by his wife, son Thomas C. (Cynthia D.) Stewart, Jr., daughter Susan Stewart, four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, four siblings, and a stillborn baby son. Tommy graduated in 1944 from Lew Wallace High School in Gary, where he lettered in football and baseball and spent summers life guarding on Lake Michigan. After graduation he enlisted in the U.S. Navy serving two years, mostly at Pearl Harbor. In 1946 he chose to play football at the University of Illinois, where he played in the 1947 Rose Bowl game. Upon graduating from Illinois in 1951, he took a teaching position at Bement High School and became the head football coach. In 1952, Tommy left Bement to be assistant football coach and PE teacher at Champaign High School. He took over as head football coach in 1953 and retired in 1983 from CHS. The family will hold a private funeral ceremony at Mt. Hope Mausoleum. A public memorial service is planned at Combes Gym in Champaign Central High School from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 31. In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, the family asks that donations be made in Tommy's name to the Champaign County Humane Society, or to the Tommy Stewart Memorial Fund at Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation, PO Box 1166, Champaign, IL 61824-1166.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, March 28, 2012)

When Hall of Fame football coach Tommy Stewart retired in 1983, he was the winningest active coach in the State of Illinois. He compiled a 31-year football record of 199-74-10 at CHS. His 1981 team won a still-standing school record of ten games. Tommy was a head coach in three, baseball, and swimming. Also, he was an accomplished official in basketball, working the state finals twice.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Monday, March 26, 2012)

Coach Tommy Stewart was truly one of a kind.

Submitted by: Donna Matteson
March 28, 2012


* Saturday is the date of the annual donkey basketball game in the CJHS gym. The game is sponsored by the CHS Future Farmers of America. Price of admission is 50 cents for high school students, 75 cents for adults, and 25 cents for gradeschoolers. Among CHS girls who will play are: Bonnie Benson, Nola Bailey, and Phyllis Warmbier.
* A party was given by Barbara Farrell last December 23. Girls having fun and messin' around were: Paula Bresee, Ida Buttitta, Judy Dawson, Judy Dowell, Barbara Foster, Pat Hagan, Nancy Kernodle, Carol Michael, Carolyn Miner, Alice Patterson, Nancy Pennington, Donna Schum, and Nancy Wisely.
* Since school began in early September, members of Wig 'n Paint have been feverishly trying to earn points. Many have succeeded in doing this and have brought honors to themselves through it. Those receiving honorable mention towards Thespian membership were: Judy Dawson, Judy Dowell, Paula Bresee, Alice Patterson, and Dick Lierman.
* Approximately 100 girls received awards at the GAA tea held December 19. Awards were for the "I" - "C" and the numerals. Sophomores receiving their 54's were: Susanne Beatty, Evelyn Bishop, Paula Bresee, Isabel Burgess, Sharon Chaplin, Ethelann Cole, Judy Dawson, Barbara Fiscus, Margaret Giuffre, Pat Hagan, Rosalie Houston, Marlene Jochim, Peggy Krutsinger, LaVerne Lewis, Reba Lewis, Pat McWard, Carolyn Miner, Maryann Nogle, Barbara Rogers, Mary Beth Sawyer, Judy Simonson, Sharon Spencer, Emily Stipes, Barbara Tyler, Neva Watson, Phyllis Warmbier, Mary Lou Wilson, Nancy Wisely, and Nancy Tyner.
(Source: The Champaign Chronicle, Vol. XXVI, No. 14, Friday, January 11, 1952)

Submitted by: Donna (Schum) Matteson
January 11, 2012


Looking back at 2011:

~~Cheddar's Restaurant, which had been on North Prospect Avenue for 16 years, was torn down in the Spring to make way for a new LongHorn Smokehouse Restaurant, now in operation.
~~A former popular Champaign BBQ spot, Po Boys, moved to Urbana.
~~Carle RX Express, which has been around for 27 years, sold its assets, including its stores, to Walgreen's.
~~The last area Jerry's IGA located in Round Barn Shopping Center closed.
~~City of Champaign has been interviewing candidates for its new police chief, as the current chief will retire early in 2012.
~~The owners of Bunny's have purchased the former Jolly Roger restaurant building in downtown Urbana, along with parking lots and three commercial lots. In all probability, the building will be torn down for some new undetermined development in the future.
~~Meatheads Burgers & Fries recently opened on the former Adair's Dairy Bar site, developed in 1949 on South Neil Street. This site has also been the location for Ponderosa Steakhouse in 1969, and Block Buster in 1984. The Meatheads chain prides itself on fresh Angus beef burgers, hand-dipped shakes (memories of Adair's), and french fries hand-cut from Idaho potatoes. Shake flavors include vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, mocha, Oreo, and coffee, with chocolate sprinkles (the soda jerk at Adair's used to make a special root beer shake).

Looking ahead to 2012:

~~The former Howard Johnson's Motel across from West Side Park in downtown Champaign is slated for a $15 million renovation to become a supportive living facility. The project is currently delayed by difficulties in obtaining financing.
~~Jet's Pizza, a fast-growing chain, plans to open a store on South Neil Street on the former Katsinas Cafe restaurant site. Jet's is probably best known for its deep-dish square pizza, and the Champaign location will be its first in downstate Illinois.
~~The Unit #4 Board of Education selected Judy Wiegand to become the School Superintendent in Champaign effective in 2012. She already has 25 years experience in the Unit #4 school system. During our days at CHS, the Superintendent was Dr. E. H. Mellon.

Submitted by: Donna (Schum) Matteson
January 2, 2012



Email DONNA for Updates at